Dec. 2, 2014
Worker suffers serious injury on 25th birthday at new job with Wagner's LLC
OSHA cites company for exposing employees to dangerous machinery
MILFORD, Ill. – A Wagner's LLC employee didn't expect to spend his 25th birthday in the hospital, but that happened on May 31, 2014. The employee cleared birdseed from an industrial mixing tank at the Milford facility and had his left hand and arm severely injured after they were caught in a moving piece of machinery. He had been on the job for two months.
After an inspection on June 4, 2014, following the incident, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for three willful, one repeat and four serious violations. OSHA proposed penalties of $241,680 for exposing workers to dangerous machine parts at the wild bird food manufacturer. As a result, Wagner's was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"Failure to protect employees from dangerous machinery often leads to catastrophic injury or death. While this worker will see his 26th birthday, he will forever carry the memory and scars from this injury," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "OSHA's investigation found a breakdown in management, which led to this employee's injury. That's unacceptable. Workers should never be at risk because safety procedures slow production."
The investigation found that Wagner's failed to lockout energy sources to protect the worker from contact with rotating machine parts and the machine turning on while he cleaned it. The company also failed to conduct periodic inspections of written protocols related to locking out machines and did not train workers on these procedures. These violations at manufacturing plants are among the most frequently cited by OSHA and put workers at risk for amputation* and other injuries. Wagner's was cited for three willful violations related to these hazards.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
OSHA also found that the company failed to provide machine guarding on another piece of equipment not involved in the incident. Wagner's was previously cited for this violation at its facility in Flagler, Colorado, in 2011. In addition, four serious safety violations were cited because the company did not provide eye protection; used damaged electrical cords; failed to perform fire extinguisher education; and had unmarked exits. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
To view the citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/WagnersLLC979436.pdf*
Founded in 1894, Wagner's LLC is based in Jericho, New York. The company employs about 120 workers nationwide with 45 in Milford. The company also operates facilities in North Dakota and Colorado.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report 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 Peoria Area Office at 309-589-7033.
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: 14-2142-CHI
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).
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