Poor Machine Guarding, Amputation, Lead to OSHA Citations

Oct. 19, 2001
A plastics factory employee learns a painful lesson about the importance of machine guarding.

Riddle: What's the fastest way to lose a finger or two?

Answer: Bypass or disable the machine guarding capabilities on machinery.

A Hopedale, Mass., plastics firm is learning an expensive lesson about machine guarding, but it won't pay as high a price as one of its employees.

Incase Inc. faces $51,467 in fines after one of its employees lost two fingers in an inadequately guarded machine. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Incase Inc. for 28 alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for a wide cross-section of manufacturing hazards.

OSHA began its inspection at Incase in response to a July 19 accident in which a thermoformer machine, used to heat and shape plastic, activated while a worker was removing plastic material from its cutting section.

"The machine was equipped with an interlocking gate designed to stop the machine's operation when the gate was opened, but our inspection found the company bypassed this necessary safety measure by installing a panel that allowed access to the machine's cutting section," said Ronald E. Morin, OSHA area director for central and western Massachusetts. "This exposed workers to amputation hazards."

OSHA cited Incase for an alleged willful violation, with a fine of $35,000, for failing to adequately guard the machine. OSHA defines as a violation committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to OSHA standards.

An additional $16,467 in fines was proposed for 25 alleged serious violations involving inadequate machine guarding, electrical hazards, fall hazards, inadequate fire prevention measures and insufficient protective equipment. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

The company was also cited for two other-than-serious hazards for failing to post permit required confined spaces and failure to develop and maintain a written hazard communication program. An other-than-serious violation is a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

Incase employs about 40 workers.

edited by Sandy Smith

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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