OSHA Fines Crown Products for Amputation Hazards

OSHA cited Crown Products Co., and proposed fines totaling\r\n$142,000 after an amputation accident at one of the company's two\r\nJacksonville, Fla., facilities.

OSHA cited Crown Products Co., and proposed fines totaling $142,000 after a Nov. 20, 2000 accident at one of the company''s two Jacksonville, Fla., facilities.

OSHA began a comprehensive inspection of the New Kings Road plant after a mechanical power press started up while an employee was trying to unjam it. The machine severed three of the employee''s fingers and crushed his arm, which was later amputated.

The agency fined Crown Products $70,000 for one willful violation for failing to fit the mechanical power press with a guard to protect workers from amputation hazards.

James Borders, OSHA''s Jacksonville area director explained that a change in production required replacement of a press machine die to which a physical barrier guard had been bolted. "This employer knew that the new, smaller die was unguarded, yet instructed employees to operate the press," said Borders. "Taking the time to follow OSHA regulations by fitting the replacement part with a guard could have prevented this tragic accident."

Among nine serious violations cited by OSHA were numerous deficiencies in machine guarding and lack of lockout procedures to render machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair, both of which placed employees at risk of amputations.

The company also had no regular power press safety inspection program and no weekly inspections of the mechanical condition of the presses.

The serious citations -- defined as those in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard -- drew proposed penalties of $37,000.

The remaining fines of $35,000 were proposed for three repeat violations.

These addressed the absence of guards to prevent entry of hands or fingers into the point of operation of the presses and to prevent employee contact with rotating flywheels.

The pulleys and drive belts on the band saw were also unguarded.

The company was cited for similar violations after a May 1998 inspection of the Phillips Highway plant.

Crown Products Co., a sheet metal fabricator, employs approximately 251 workers, about 33 of whom are assigned to the New Kings Road plant. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA''s citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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