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June 05, 2024
Wisconsin manufacturer facing $177K OSHA fine

Wisconsin pallet manufacturer Konz Wood Products is facing $177,453 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties after a 57-year-old worker was fatally struck by the carriage of a lumber stacking machine.

OSHA investigators learned that the company hadn’t ensured the machine was locked out when an employee removed a board jammed in the machine. As the employee freed the board, the metal carriage moved, striking him and causing severe crushing injuries.

A stacker machine’s metal carriage moves boards onto pallets for transport, pushing and lowering each row of wood onto a pallet upon completion.

OSHA cited Konz Wood Products with two repeat violations for a lack of lockout/tagout procedures and failing to provide fall protection when employees worked above dangerous machinery. The agency also cited the employer with 15 serious violations for a lack of point-of-operation and machine guarding on band saws, chains, shaft ends, sprockets, and table saws. Inspectors also noted electrical hazards, missing staircase handrails, and oxygen tanks that were stored unsafely.

The fatal incident marked OSHA’s fifth inspection since 2016 at Konz’s Appleton plant. OSHA cited the company in 2019 after inspectors found four serious violations, including one related to required lockout/tagout procedures and another related to a lack of fall protection.

Last fall, OSHA released its annual list of its most cited standards; the lockout/tagout rule was OSHA’s seventh most cited standard, and its machine guarding rule was the tenth most cited standard in fiscal year (FY) 2023. The agency cited 2,554 violations of the lockout/tagout rule (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) and 1,644 violations of the machine guarding rule (§1910.212).

United Airlines’ citation affirmed

An administrative law judge (ALJ) with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission affirmed OSHA’s citation of United Airlines, OSHA announced May 31. In a 2021 incident at Newark Liberty International Airport, a Boeing 737’s tire crushed a technician’s foot while the technician worked with one of the company’s towing crews.

The ALJ affirmed the General Duty Clause citation and OSHA’s $14,502 penalty.

OSHA’s Parsippany, New Jersey, area office investigated how the technician’s right foot was crushed on November 24, 2021, leading to the employee’s hospitalization and the amputation of five toes. Agency investigators determined that United Airlines failed to follow its own policies and procedures for safely towing a plane. The airline contested OSHA’s citation.

“United Airlines could have prevented an employee from suffering a debilitating injury had the company followed its own safety procedures for towing a jet weighing as much as 50 tons,” Joseph Czapik, OSHA’s Parsippany area office director, said in an agency statement. “This operation is recognized by the airline industry as a dangerous and well-known hazard and proper procedures must be followed to prevent serious injuries or worse.”

The ALJ concluded that the airline exposed technicians to serious struck-by and crushed-by hazards during the towing process. Following the ALJ’s April 23 decision, United filed a petition on May 28 seeking to appeal the judge’s decision.

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