OSHA launched an investigation on May 28 of Seaford Ice Inc. in Seaford, Del., after a worker fell into an unguarded conveyer opening while breaking ice, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs below the knee.
This was the second time a worker suffered an amputation due to lack of machine guarding at the company’s Seaford plant. In 2012, an employee had a foot amputated after it touched a conveyor. OSHA determined that the conveyor openings were too large and its guard inadequate.
Following the May incident, OSHA on Nov. 18 cited the company for one willful, five serious and three other-than-serious violations. The agency cited the willful violation for lack of machine guarding. Electrical hazards, unguarded machines, hazard communication violations and the absence of a lockout/tagout program – which prevents the accidental start-up or movement of machinery – were among the serious violations. The other-than-serious violations involved lack of a personal protective equipment assessment and electrical violations. Proposed penalties total $77,000.
“Seaford Ice disregarded employee safety by not ensuring a proper guard on the conveyor belt, leading to a preventable amputation,” said Erin G. Patterson, OSHA’s area director in Wilmington. “This is unacceptable considering the company knew after the 2012 incident that the machine lacked safeguards to protect workers. Despite this warning, Seaford chose to expose workers to hazards, and a second employee was needlessly injured. When employers fail to provide a safe and healthful workplace, they will be held accountable.”
Seaford Ice has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with Patterson or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.