Auto Parts Maker Agrees to $820,500 Fine

An Ohio auto parts manufacturer has agreed to pay an $820,500 penalty and implement a comprehensive safety and health program to settle a case involving more than 60 instances of crushed fingers on unguarded machines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Tomasco Mulciber Inc.'s Columbus plant for 45 alleged violations and proposed a $1.64 million fine Jan. 19, 1999. Tomasco was cited for 28 willful violations of machine guarding, requirements for power presses and resistance welding machines and for 17 serious violations of lockout tagout, mechanical power press, confined spaces and electrical standards.

As part of the settlement, which reduced the penalty amount in half, Tomasco certified that all conditions cited as violations have been abated. The company also conducted a comprehensive safety and health analysis at the plant with an outside consultant. A written action plan provides for improvements to be made to the plant's safety and health programs.

Tomasco's efforts include communications by the company president, Yukufumi Inoue, to all workers that stress the importance of safety and health protection and the establishment of clear corporate goals and objectives for managers and supervisors.

Tomasco agreed to review and revise its written safety and health programs to ensure that all workers are competent to recognize basic safety hazards and those unique to the industry. The company will train employees on specific work operations and will emphasize that no work is to be performed on machinery with removed, broken or disabled safety devices.

The company's management team has dedicated substantial resources to provide a work environment to associates that goes beyond requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Inoue said in a prepared statement.

The OSHA inspection identified 80 instances of machine guarding deficiencies contributing to serious hand injuries, including finger amputations, during the past four years. More than two-thirds of the welding and assembly machines that the agency inspected were not guarded.

"The company allowed workers, including many temporary employees, to work on unguarded machines in spite of the inordinate number of injuries," said Alexis M. Herman, secretary of the Department of Labor. "It's disturbing that many guards already in place were bypassed."

OSHA conducted the inspection as part of its Interim Targeting Plan to seek out companies with the highest injury and illness rates. Tomasco's lost workday injury and illness rate of 13.3 is nearly double the 7.5 national rate for auto parts manufacturers. Further review of the company's injury records revealed high numbers of crushed-hand injuries.

Tomasco, a subsidiary of Masuda Manufacturing Inc. of Tokyo, builds front-end frames for Honda of America. Its Columbus plant employs 460 permanent employees and 160 temporary workers. Those temp workers suffered more than two thirds of the crushing injuries and were considered to be nine times more likely to be injured by a machine.

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