US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Houston employer for 8 willful,
egregious violations after worker injured on machine without safeguards
HOUSTON – Following an incident where a machine operator's arms were crushed, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Custom Rubber Products LLC with eight willful, egregious violations. The company created a dangerous work environment by failing to guard machines, which exposed workers to life-threatening hazards. Proposed penalties for the Houston facility total $560,000.
"In an instant, moving machine parts can crush workers or amputate fingers or limbs," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Safeguards are essential to protect workers from these preventable injuries. Employers must ensure that guards are functioning on machines that can cause these injuries, and there is no excuse for failing to provide them."
OSHA's Houston North Area Office began the September 2013 inspection in response to a complaint that a worker was severely injured while operating an unguarded machine. During the inspection, OSHA became aware of two other incidents that occurred previously at the facility; both involved severe injuries to employees while operating similar machinery.
The eight willful violations, with a penalty of $560,000, were cited for failing to provide one or more methods of machine guarding to protect the operator and other workers in the machine area from hazards created by rotating parts while operating seven manual lathes and other equipment. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/CustomRubberProducts_939505_02272014.pdf*.
Custom Rubber Products, owned by Paris-based Flexitallic Group, employs about 280 workers and manufactures products for the oil and gas industry. The workers' compensation carrier is American International Group. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Houston North Area Office, or contest the citations and penalties 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), the agency's Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438, or its Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 292-693-7828 or TTY 292-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.