Aug. 4, 2015
OSHA again cites Kapco Inc. after portion of employee's finger
amputated; co-worker has similar injury in 2014 on same machine
More than $207K in proposed fines for Osceola, Wisconsin, metal stamping facility
OSCEOLA, Wis. - Just one year after a worker amputated part of her right index finger on a spot welding machine at an Osceola metal stamping plant, a 19-year-old female co-worker suffered a similar injury on the same machine. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found that her employer failed to implement safety procedures they agreed upon to protect workers from machine operating parts.
OSHA issued two egregious willful, one repeated, three serious and two other-than-serious safety violations to Kapco Inc. on July 31. Proposed penalties total $207,600.
The injured welder, employed by the company for two months, had operated the spot welder for only nine days before the amputation occurred on Feb. 5, 2015.
"Kapco has consciously placed employees at risk of serious injury to increase production. The company ignored its agreement to protect workers," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "OSHA will hold the company responsible for its lack of regard for employee safety and its legal obligation to provide a safe work environment."
Investigators also found that employees were required to weld thousands of parts a month on spot welding machines with their hand and fingers inches away from the machine's operating parts during the welding cycle. Following the 2014 injury, Kapco agreed to manufacture fixtures to hold smaller parts, so that welders would not need to hold the parts with their fingers, near the point of operation. The company also installed hand controls to cycle the machine, but employees were still required to use foot controls while holding parts.
While investigating the February injury, OSHA found that Kapco failed to implement either of the safety measures fully, as agreed. The two willful violations cited the company for failing to guard points of operation on welding machines.
A repeated violation cited the company for failing to install adequate machine guarding on metal coil straighteners and milling machinery, violations the company was cited for previously in July 2014 and May 2013.
Investigators also found three serious violations for failing to use locking devices to prevent the unintentional operation of machinery during service or maintenance, a process known as lockout/tagout.
Kapco also failed to notify OSHA of the amputation injury within 24 hours, as required, reporting the amputation five days after it occurred. Investigators also noted that the company did not perform annual inspections of energy control procedures, which resulted in two other-than-serious violations.
To view current citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/KAPCOInc_1037687_073115.pdf*
Based in Grafton, Kapco is one of the largest steel buyers in the Midwest. The company employs about 110 workers at the Osceola manufacturing plant and more than 430 at its six Wisconsin manufacturing facilities.
The company has been inspected by OSHA 18 times since 1976. It has received a total of 45 safety violations, including 21 for machine hazards.
In 2013, a worker at the company's Grafton facility had three fingers amputated on a power press. In another incident in 2014, an employee at the company's Osceola plant suffered a crushed hand and finger amputation when her hand caught in a metal coil straightening machine that fed a mechanical power press.
Kapco has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director at the Eau Claire Area Office, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, 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 Eau Claire Area Office at 715-832-9019.
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.
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Release Number: 15-1344-CHI
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