OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA CITES MIDDLETON, N.H., EMPLOYER FOR ALLEGED SAFETY & HEALTH VIOLATIONS FOLLOWING INVESTIGATION OF AMPUTATION ACCIDENT; OVER $100,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Middleton Building Supply, Inc., of Middleton, New Hampshire, for alleged workplace safety and health violations following the investigation of an accident last summer in which an employee's leg was amputated in the company's sawmill. The federal enforcement agency is proposing a total of $105,792 in penalties for the alleged violations.
According to David May, OSHA's area director for New Hampshire, on June 27, 2000, OSHA investigators responded to an accident reported at the company's location at 5 Kings Highway in Middleton. There they learned that a saw operator had been making an adjustment to a 50-inch circular head saw when the mechanism which carries logs into the saw moved and pushed the worker into the rotating saw blade, amputating his leg above the knee.
"This was a tragic accident which simply shouldn't have happened," said May. "And it wouldn't have happened if this employer had taken the necessary steps and precautions to protect its employees from the hazards of the dangerous powered machinery in this workplace."
May noted that OSHA's inspection uncovered a number of hazards in addition to those directly related to the accident. Consequently, Middleton Building Supply, Inc., is being cited for the following alleged safety and health violations:
Two alleged WILLFUL violations, including proposed penalties totaling $93,000, for: failing to develop, document and utilize procedures to control potentially hazardous energy in the sawmill to protect workers servicing the machinery in the sawmill and failing to provide positive means to prevent unintended movement of log carriage equipment in the sawmill; as well as several instances of failing to enclose sprocket wheels and chains which were seven feet or less above floors or platforms.
Six alleged SERIOUS violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $12,792, for: failing to guard a floor hole into which persons could accidentally walk; failing to equip a ladder with extensions that extended above the landing; failing to provide guarding on various pieces of machinery to protect employees from hazards created by rotating parts, shear points and in-going nip points; failing to guard exposed parts of horizontal rotating shafting and projecting shaft ends, as well as failing to cover the keyway for the shaft end of a conveyor chain; failing to equip circular head saws with safety guides which could be readily adjusted without use of hand tools; and, failing to provide employees with training in the requirements of the Bloodborne Pathogen standard prior to requiring them to participate in cleanup operations following the amputation accident.
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 substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
May stressed that OSHA's so called "lock-out/tag-out" standard is specifically designed to prevent accidents of the type which happened in this workplace. The standard requires that, before an employee is allowed to perform maintenance or any sort of adjustment on it, powered machinery must be shut down, positively secured from moving, and that the power source be locked and tagged to prevent accidental startup by another worker.
May urged New Hampshire employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
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.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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