The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has slapped a Rome, Georgia company with a pair of violations after an employee had four fingers amputated while servicing a dust collector's airlock system.
A willful violation alleges the company failed to use required lockout/tagout procedures to ensure the system was de-energized prior to performed maintenance. A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard for the law or plain indifference to worker safety. A serious violation was issued for failure to properly train workers. A serious violation is issued when there is substantial probability death or serious harm could result from a hazard that was known, or should have been known, to the employer.
Marglen Industries Inc. has 15 days to appeal the $69,300 fine.
Our Georgia workers' compensation attorneys know failure to lockout/tagout equipment undergoing maintenance is a common cause of work injury in the manufacturing sector. Amputation injuries frequently result.
"Although the company has a lockout/tagout program, it was not implemented for this machine, resulting in serious injury to a worker," said Andre Richards, area director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office.
OSHA reports amputation injuries occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately guarded power equipment, including mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and non-powered conveyors, printing presses, roll-forming and roll- bending machines, food slicers, meat grinders, meat-cutting band saws, drill presses, and milling machines as well as shears, grinders, and slitters.
Each year thousands of employees lose hands, feet and fingers. Fingertips are the most frequently reported amputation injury.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports about 20,000 amputation injuries a year occur in the workplace.
Likewise, failure to lockout-tagout equipment before performing maintenance is another common cause of all types of serious work accidents, including amputation and crush injuries. OSHA mandates control of hazardous energy sources that can be hazardous to workers via electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources in machines and equipment.
29 CFR 1910.147 outlines OSHA's standards for the control of hazardous energy in general industry, including procedures for the maintenance of machines and equipment. The law also requires all employees who work in the area be properly trained not to attempt to restart or energize machines that have been locked out or tagged out.
Employees conducting lockout and tagout procedures must also be trained on the means and methods of isolating and controlling all energy sources.
OSHA's lockout/tagout fact sheet is available here.
These are preventable injuries. By properly training maintenance personnel regarding tagout/lockout procedures -- and by ensuring staff understands never to use such machinery, an employer can drastically reduce the risks of a serious or fatal Georgia work accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.
Georgia Work Injuries: Government Releases Accident & Illness Stats for 2011, Published by J. Franklin Burns, P.C., Nov. 7, 2012.