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Region 1 News Release: BOS 2001-003
Monday, January 8, 2001
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
Over $53,000 in Penalties Proposed against Premier Corrugated Box, Inc.
OSHA CITES FITCHBURG, MASS., MANUFACTURER FOR
ALLEGED WILLFUL & SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Premier Corrugated Box, Inc., a box manufacturer located at 245 River Street in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and has proposed penalties totaling $53,825.
According to Ronald E. Morin, OSHA area director for central and western Massachusetts, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated November 20, 2000, after a worker was injured when his hand was caught in the moving parts of a laminating machine.
"The inspection found that a limit switch on the machine had been duct-taped in the 'on' position, overriding the switch so that the machine's rollers would continually operate, even when they shouldn't have," said Morin. "This exposed employees to the possibility of crushed limbs or, as happened here, severe lacerations, if they came in contact with the rollers.
"Of particular concern in this case is the fact that management knew this switch had been overridden but took no steps to correct the hazard," he said. "As a result, the citation for this hazard is being classified as Willful, the most severe category of OSHA citation and, as such, accounts for the bulk of the fine proposed here."
Morin noted that the inspection also identified several other hazards including exposed live electrical parts, unmarked electrical disconnect switches, a defective conveyor belt and lack of restraint devices, such as seat belts on forklift trucks:
"These particular conditions exposed employees to possible electrocution, accidentally activating or shutting down machines, contact with a conveyor's rotating parts and crushing injuries in the event of a forklift tipover."
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is defined 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.
The company has 15 business 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.
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
One alleged Willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $50,000, for:
- employees exposed to serious injury, such as severe lacerations and crushed limbs, due to the overriding of the limit switch on a laminating machine;
Four alleged Serious violations, with $3,825 in proposed penalties, for:
- employees operating forklifts exposed to crushing injuries in the event of a tipover due to the lack of a restraint device such as a seat belt;
- employees not protected against the rotating parts of a conveyor system stemming from a defective conveyor belt;
- equipment disconnect switches not marked to indicate their purpose; - exposed live electrical parts.
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.
Morin urged central Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Springfield at 413-785-0123 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.
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.
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