OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA CITES FALL RIVER, MASS., EMPLOYER FOR UNGUARDED TABLESAW AND OTHER SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS FOLLOWING WORKER DEATH
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Homeland Builders, Inc., a manufacturer of wood products located 218 Shove Street in Fall River, Massachusetts for alleged Serious and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following the death of a worker and has proposed penalties of $29,800 against the company.
According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Southeastern Massachusetts, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated September 18, 2000. On that day, an employee of Homeland Builders died after his chest was pierced by a small piece of wood which had kicked back from a tablesaw that was being operated by another employee.
"The inspection found that the tablesaw in question lacked the protective shielding necessary to prevent just this sort of accident," said Gordon. "The tablesaw should have been equipped with a spreader and antikickback fingers, attachments designed to prevent material from shooting back or out at operators or other workers during sawing operations, yet these safeguards were not installed on this machine."
"Guarding deficiencies were found on two other machines as well," she said. "A radial arm saw had an exposed blade, was not installed so that its cutting head would return automatically to its starting position and was not equipped with an adjustable stop to prevent forward movement while a jointer had a broken guard which exposed workers to its cutting heads during operation. These deficiencies exposed employees to possible amputation hazards."
The inspection also identified other hazards, including the use of frayed and damaged electrical power cords, lack of adequate training for a forklift operator and an inadequate respirator safety program.
Gordon noted that while the risk of amputation from unguarded blades and moving parts is often identified as a hazard associated with woodworking equipment, the possibility of employees being struck by kickbacks or ejected materials during woodworking operations is also a significant hazard:
"This accident exemplifies why machine guarding is a basic and necessary safeguard for saws and woodworking equipment and must be supplied whenever and wherever required," said Gordon. "Had this tablesaw been properly outfitted, this accident and its consequences could have been avoided."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
Nine alleged Serious violations, with $29,800 in proposed penalties, for:
- the table saw was not equipped with a spreader and nonkickback fingers to prevent the saw from throwing or kicking back material;
- a radial arm saw was not equipped with a guard for the lower exposed portion of its blade, lacked an adjustable stop to prevent its forward travel beyond the edge of the table, and was not installed so its cutting head would return to the starting position when released by the operator;
- the jointer's cutting head guard did not automatically adjust to the working side of the fence, thus exposing it's the cutting heads during operation;
- extension cords with frayed or taped insulation were in use;
- failure to ensure that a fork lift operator was properly trained in the safe operation of the vehicle;
- failure to develop and implement a written respirator program with worksite specific procedures for employees wearing half-mask respirators; failure to provide voluntary respirator users with information about respirators; no one designated to administer and oversee the respiratory protection program; medical evaluations and fit testing not provided for employees wearing respirators.
Two alleged Other than Serious violations, with no cash penalties, for:
- failure to verify that a required workplace hazard assessment had been performed and failure to develop and implement a complete written hazard communication program.
Gordon urged Southeastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Braintree at 617-565-6924 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.
A serious violation is defined by OSHA 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. An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
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, 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.
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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