Poor Machine Guarding Equals Million-Dollar Fine

The California Manufacturers Association is citing new evidence that workers' compensation costs in the state are increasing at an alarming rate.

OSHA proposed fines of $1.6 million against a Honda subcontractor following nearly 60 cases of crushed fingers on unguarded machines at the Tomasco Mulciber Inc. facility in Columbus, Ohio. An OSHA inspection of the facility revealed 80 instances of machine guarding deficiencies contributing to serious hand injuries, including finger amputations, during the past 4 years.

OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress noted that more than two-thirds of the welding and assembly machines inspected were not guarded. OSHA cited the company for 28 alleged willful violations of machine guarding requirements for power presses and resistance welding machines and for 17 alleged serious violations of the lockout/tagout, mechanical power press, confined spaces and electrical standards.

Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman commented, "It's disturbing that many guards already in place were deliberately bypassed. The apparent indifference and reckless disregard to workers' safety and health exhibited at this plant will not be tolerated and certainly warrants stiff penalties."

The company, which builds front-end frames for Honda of America, employees 620 permanent and temporary workers. It has a lost workday injury and illness rate of 13.3, nearly double the national rate for auto parts manufacturing companies. In response to employee complaints, OSHA has inspected Tomasco five times since 1988.

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