Region 5 News Release: 251
Date: June 26, 2002
Contact: Mark Hysell
Phone: (715) 832-9010
Partial Amputation Of Worker's Hand Leads To
OSHA Fine Of $121,450 For Rice Lake, Wis., Firm
CHICAGO -- A Rice Lake, Wis., firm's failure to ensure that workers locked out machinery from a power source which resulted in the partial amputation of a worker's hand last December has led to a fine of $121,450 by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
An employee of Birchwood Manufacturing Company Inc. and his supervisor were attempting to unclog a metering valve on a wood-grinding machine. The machine was not locked out from a power source prior to beginning the work and the valve unexpectedly rotated. The accident severed four fingers and most of the palm of the employee's right hand that were later re-attached. OSHA issued citations alleging willful, serious, and other-than-serious safety and health violations.
"Power equipment that has not been locked-out from an electrical source presents one of the most hazardous work environments for workers," said OSHA's Eau Claire, Wis., Area Director Charles Burin. "This tragedy could have been prevented if the firm had complied with OSHA's lock-out and tag-out requirements."
OSHA issued willful violations alleging that the firm did not have written machine-specific lockout procedures and that devices to isolate electrical energy were not used by authorized employees.
The alleged serious violations cited the firm for failing to perform adequate lockout periodic reviews, failing to train supervisors in lockout, and failing to retrain employees in lockout procedures when job duties changed. Other alleged serious cited the firm for failing to provide annual fire extinguisher training and failing to guard a chain and sprocket.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one which is committed with an intentional disregard for or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Birchwood Manufacturing Company Inc has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to contest the citations and proposed penalties with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission or to request an informal conference with the area director.
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