Chao Chides Company for 'Careless Attitude' Toward Worker Safety

The failure to address the hazards of unguarded machinery in a timely manner and inadequate protection of employees exposed to the potential of unexpected energization of equipment at its Waupun, Wis. plant may cost Silgan Containers Corp. $154,350 in OSHA fines.

"The dangers of unguarded machinery and the hazards of servicing machinery that accidentally can be activated are well known," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Far too often the result is an amputation or loss of life. We cannot allow such a careless attitude toward worker safety."

OSHA opened an investigation into workplace safety and health conditions at the plant in September, 2002, as a targeted inspection based on the company's lost-workday injury and illness rate of 14.7. OSHA inspectors found serious violations of federal regulations including machine guarding, electrical deficiencies and an improperly guarded work platform. The agency also issued willful citations for alleged failure to have workers lockout equipment in an appropriate manner prior to servicing and maintenance, and for alleged unguarded point-of-operations on mechanical power presses.

The Waupun plant employs over 90 workers in the manufacture of tin cans for the food processing industry. There are 5,000 employees company-wide at some 40 plants throughout the U.S.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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