News Release: USDL99-18
Tuesday, January 19, 1999
Contact: Bill Wright/(202) 693-1999 or Deborah Zubaty (Columbus Area Office)/(614) 469-5582
Employees complain of machine guarding deficiencies
OSHA PROPOSES FINES OF $1.6 MILLION AGAINST TOMASCO MULCIBER, INC.
More than 60 cases involving crushed fingers on unguarded machines at an Ohio auto parts manufacturer have resulted in more than $1.6 million in proposed penalties against Tomasco Mulciber, Inc., Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman announced today.
Herman said that an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection at the Columbus facility identified 80 instances of machine guarding deficiencies contributing to serious hand injuries -- including finger amputations -- during the past four years.
"This company allowed workers, including many temporary employees, to work on unguarded machines in spite of the inordinate number of injuries," Secretary Herman said. "It's disturbing that many guards already in place were deliberately bypassed. The apparent indifference and reckless disregard to workers' safety and health exhibited at this plant will not be tolerated and certainly warrants stiff penalties."
OSHA cited the company for 28 alleged willful violations of machine guarding requirements for power presses and resistance welding machines, with proposed penalties totaling $1,570,000. OSHA also cited the company for 17 alleged serious violations of the lockout/tagout, mechanical power press, confined spaces, and electrical standards, with $71,000
in proposed penalties.
"More than two-thirds of the welding and assembly machines that we inspected at this plant were not guarded," said Charles Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "During our inspection, we found 26 unguarded resistance welding machines. Employees continue to suffer serious hand and finger injuries because the plant's management refuses to adhere to basic safety regulations."
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Tomasco Mulciber, Inc., is a subsidiary of Masuda Manufacturing, Inc., in Tokyo. The company, which builds front-end frames for Honda of America, employs 460 permanent workers, in addition to 160 temporary employees, at the Columbus plant.
OSHA conducted the current inspection as part of the agency's Interim Targeting Plan to inspect companies with the highest injury and illness rates. Tomasco's lost workday injury and illness rate of 13.3 nearly doubles the 7.5 national rate for auto parts manufacturing companies. Further review of the company's injury records revealed high numbers of crushed-hand injuries. As a result, OSHA conducted a comprehensive safety and health inspection.
The plant's temporary employees suffered more than two thirds of the crushing injuries. Though they made up one fourth of the plant's workforce, the inspection revealed they were nine times more likely to be injured on a machine.
OSHA has inspected Tomasco five times since 1988, all due to formal employee complaints. Fourteen citations were issued as a result of those inspections, including two instances of machine guarding violations. Since 1996, OSHA has received nine employee complaints against Tomasco, four of which resulted in on-site inspections.
A willful violation is defined as one committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have know n of the hazard.
The news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov/ under media releases. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.