Machine Guarding Lapses Lead to Fines for Alabama Company

OSHA reels in a cable manufacturer for machine guarding violations, proposes a $86,500 fine.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reeled in another alleged wrongdoer.

An Alabama cable manufacturer's failure to adhere to proper machine guarding procedures contributed to the death of one worker and will cost the company $86,500 in proposed penalties, according to OSHA.

On April 17, an employee of Forte Power Systems Inc., Heflin, Ala., was rewinding scrap cable on a large wooden reel. During the procedure, he became caught in the unguarded machine and suffered severe head injuries. He died two days later.

"This employer displayed an intentional disregard of OSHA's machine guarding standard," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's Birmingham acting area director. "Management was aware that at least three other employees had been injured in previous accidents because of the unguarded machine, but took no action to abate the hazard."

OSHA's investigation resulted in the company being issued an alleged willful violation with a proposed penalty of $70,000 for failing to guard the machine's nip points and rotating parts so that workers could not become entangled in the cable. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company also received three alleged serious citations for failing to use permanent electrical wiring and proper strain relief devices, and failing to guard nip points of a tensioning device. The serious violations were accompanied by a $16,500 proposed penalty. Serious violations are those in which a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Forte Power Systems Inc. is owned by the Carrollton, Ga-based Southwire Co.

edited by Sandy Smith

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