Monroe, GA (WorkersCompensation.com) - A Georgia storage system manufacturer could have prevented debilitating injuries to two of its workers - each of whom suffered the loss of a finger in separate workplace incidents - if the employer followed safety standards and provided the proper protection on equipment.
In a three-month period beginning in November 2014, two different employees had a finger amputated while working at Elite Storage Solutions LLC in Monroe. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated and issued 24 safety and health violations and proposed total penalties of $125,165.
"Every employer's highest priority should be protecting the safety and health of their workers," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "It is tragic that employees are left to suffer when a company chooses not to abide by recognized safety standards."
In the first incident, a worker operating a power press had a left ring finger severed in November 2014 as he used the press to stamp small parts for metal racks. The pallet rack manufacturer failed to ensure safety guards were in place to prevent an employee's hands and limbs from entering the machine.
Two months later, a second worker was standing up a fabricated metal rack when the 353-pound rack tipped over suddenly. The rack knocked the worker to the floor, crushing his hand and causing the loss of his left index finger. In this case, the company ignored safety standards to secure the rack.
Newly updated OSHA reporting requirements helped investigators learn of numerous hazards at Elite Storage. In January, the agency implemented new rules that require employers to report incidents that result in hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of eyesight within 24 hours.
"We investigated the first incident and this is when OSHA became aware of numerous hazards at this workplace," Fulcher explained. "Hazardous working conditions cannot go unaddressed, especially when workers are suffering permanent injuries."
In its review at Elite Storage, OSHA found 22 serious violations, totaling $125,165 in proposed penalties. The violations included the following:
Exposing employees to amputation hazards by not ensuring welded metal beams were secured
With corporate headquarters and manufacturing in Monroe, Elite Storage produces metal racking systems that the company sells throughout North America. The company employs approximately 260 workers.
Elite Storage Solutions has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
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