Region 1 News Release: BOS 98-228
Tuesday, December 1, 1998
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald, (617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES MIDDLETOWN, CONN., MANUFACTURER FOR ALLEGED REPEAT AND SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS; PROPOSES OVER $48,000 IN PENALTIES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Middletown Manufacturing, Inc., of Middletown, Connecticut, for alleged Repeat, Serious and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and has proposed penalties totaling $48,300.
According to Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated August 11, 1998, after OSHA learned of an August 10 accident in which a mechanical power press unexpectedly activated and struck a worker's hand, resulting in the loss of four fingers. Middletown Manufacturing produces toolboxes and approximately 27 workers are employed at the plant which is located at 27 Stack Street in Middletown.
"The inspection found that the foot pedal which activates the power press on which the injured employee worked lacked a cover to shield it against accidental contact that would start up the machine," said Weston. "In addition, other hazards -- involving energy control, machine guarding and electrical safety -- were identified in the course of the inspection. Though not directly related to the accident, these other cited conditions nonetheless left employees exposed to the hazards of electrocution, being caught in moving machine parts, or otherwise being injured by the unexpected startup of a machine."
Weston noted that the size of the fines proposed in this case reflects both the number of citations issued and the classification of four of those citations as Repeat. OSHA issues Repeat citations when an employer has previously been cited for a substantially similar condition.
"Last year, OSHA cited this company for violations of the OSHA standard governing the safe operation and maintenance of mechanical power presses," said Weston. "While those hazards were corrected at that time, it is particularly disheartening to find similar conditions apparently reoccurring in this workplace."
Specifically, the citations and $48,300 in total proposed penalties encompass:
Four alleged Repeat violations, with $24,000 in proposed penalties, for:
The foot pedal on a mechanical power press was not covered to prevent its unintended operation; the foot pedal on another power press lacked a nonslip contact area;
Two presses were not provided with electromagnetic switches to disconnect their motors from their power sources to prevent their accidental restart after a power loss;
Five presses lacked adequate point of operation guarding;
No program of periodic and regular inspections for nine power presses to ensure they were in safe operating condition; no records of inspections and maintenance of power press pullout devices.
[The employer had previously been cited for violations of these OSHA standards, or their equivalent, in citations issued July 21, 1997].
Fourteen alleged Serious violation, with $23,700 in penalties proposed, for:
Failure to conduct an annual inspection of the company's energy control procedures and train authorized and affected employees in the program's purpose and use;
A lathe lacked a chuck guard to prevent objects from being thrown; inadequate point of operation guarding on two shears;
Inadequately guarded flywheel on a power press; unguarded pulleys, horizontal belts and vertical belts on various machinery, including power presses, conveyors and sanders;
Four mechanical power presses lacked a single stroke mechanism; two presses lacked a compression type spring;
Unguarded live electrical parts; ungrounded machinery and an ungrounded metal conduit and electrical outlet box; a flexible power cord in deteriorated condition with exposed inner wires; flexible cords and cables used in lieu of permanent wiring; flexible cords lacked adequate strain relief.
Two alleged Other than Serious violations, with a proposed penalty of $600, for:
Weston urged Connecticut employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Bridgeport or Hartford and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
A repeated violation is issued when an employer has previously been cited by OSHA for a substantially similar violation and that citation has become final.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.