June 30, 2015
Storage system manufacturer's safety failures cause 2 workers
to suffer amputations in 2 incidents in three months
Elite Storage Solutions issued 24 violations, faces $125K in penalties
MONROE, Ga. - A Georgia storage system manufacturer could have prevented debilitating injuries to two of its workers - each of whom suffered the loss of a finger in separate workplace incidents - if the employer followed safety standards and provided the proper protection on equipment.
In a three-month period beginning in November 2014, two different employees had a finger amputated while working at Elite Storage Solutions LLC in Monroe. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated and issued 24 safety and health violations and proposed total penalties of $125,165.
"Every employer's highest priority should be protecting the safety and health of their workers," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "It is tragic that employees are left to suffer when a company chooses not to abide by recognized safety standards."
In the first incident, a worker operating a power press had a left ring finger severed in November 2014 as he used the press to stamp small parts for metal racks. The pallet rack manufacturer failed to ensure safety guards were in place to prevent an employee's hands and limbs from entering the machine.
Two months later, a second worker was standing up a fabricated metal rack when the 353-pound rack tipped over suddenly. The rack knocked the worker to the floor, crushing his hand and causing the loss of his left index finger. In this case, the company ignored safety standards to secure the rack.
Newly updated OSHA reporting requirements helped investigators learn of numerous hazards at Elite Storage. In January, the agency implemented new rules that require employers to report incidents that result in hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of eyesight within 24 hours.
"We investigated the first incident and this is when OSHA became aware of numerous hazards at this workplace," Fulcher explained. "Hazardous working conditions cannot go unaddressed, especially when workers are suffering permanent injuries."
In its review at Elite Storage, OSHA found 22 serious violations, totaling $125,165 in proposed penalties. The violations included the following:
- Exposing employees to amputation hazards by not ensuring welded metal beams were secured
- Failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance
- Obstructing exit routes
- Exposing workers to fall hazards up to heights of 10 feet
- Not ensuring employees performing maintenance or service on equipment were trained, according to the company's safety procedures
- Failing to have safety guards on several pieces of machinery
- Allowing employees to work in a 480-volt electrical panel without personal protective equipment at risk of electrocution or shock hazards
- Failing to have a respiratory protection training program
- Storing an oxygen cylinder without a valve protection cap
View the current citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/elitestorage1021850.pdf*
With corporate headquarters and manufacturing in Monroe, Elite Storage produces metal racking systems that the company sells throughout North America. The company employs approximately 260 workers.
Elite Storage Solutions has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report amputations, losses of an eye, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Atlanta-East Area Office at 770-493-6644.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Release Number: 15-1194-ATL (199)
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.