The investigation revealed that the company had violated OSHA standards by failing to provide proper machine guarding. The employer allowed the light curtains, an invisible infrared beam used for employee protection, to be overridden and remain inoperable for a period of 2 years. If the light curtain had been operating correctly, the amputation could have been avoided.
As a result, OSHA is proposing one willful violation carrying $49,000 in proposed penalties. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
Seven serious violations, with proposed penalties of $14,700, included open-sided floors, electrical hazards, other machine guarding deficiencies and failure to label stop buttons.
“If the employer had implemented the recommended safety procedures by having proper machine guarding on equipment, these needless injuries could have been avoided,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s area director in Mobile.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.