NY Recycler Faces Nearly $160,000 In Fines Following Amputation



Buffalo, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited American Recycling & Manufacturing Co. Inc. for 18 alleged violations of workplace safety standards at its Rochester manufacturing plant. The packaging manufacturer faces a total of $159,400 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office prompted by a Dec. 3, 2012, amputation incident.

An employee who was cutting wood with a pop-up saw lost his left hand when another employee accidentally stepped on the machine's operating foot pedal that was unguarded, unexpectedly activating the saw.

"This is exactly the type of incident and injury that machine guarding is designed to prevent. Had the foot pedal been properly guarded, this injury would not have occurred," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Compounding this hazard is the fact that the employer was aware and did not correct it."

Two willful citations, with $88,000 in fines, were issued for the unguarded foot pedal and for failing to secure the saw to the floor. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Sixteen serious citations, with $71,400 in fines, involve failing to establish a hazardous energy control, or lockout/tagout program, and provide energy control equipment and training to workers; lack of a hazard communication program and failing to train employees on chemical and wood dust hazards; an exit door that was welded shut; various electrical hazards; untrained powered industrial truck operators; failure to keep the workplace clean, orderly and sanitary; floor not maintained in good repair; and inadequate guarding of moving machine parts. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Am_Recycling_Cits.pdf*.

"To prevent incidents like this from occurring, employers should implement an effective illness and injury prevention program in which they will work with their employees to identify, address and eliminate hazards before they harm workers," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

American Recycling & Manufacturing Co. Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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