Partial Amputation Of Worker's Hand Leads To OSHA Fine

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Birchwood Manufacturing Co. Inc. of Rice Lake, Wis., following an accident that severed four fingers and most of the palm of an employee's hand.

The employee and his supervisor were attempting to unclog a metering valve on a wood-grinding machine when the accident occurred. The machine was not locked out from a power source prior to beginning the work, and the valve unexpectedly rotated. OSHA issued citations alleging willful, serious and other-than-serious safety and health violations and proposed a fine of $121,450.

"Power equipment that has not been locked out from an electrical source presents one of the most hazardous work environments for workers," said Charles Burin, OSHA's Eau Claire, Wis., area director. "This tragedy could have been prevented if the firm had complied with OSHA's lockout and tagout requirements."

OSHA issued willful violations alleging that the firm did not have written machine-specific lockout procedures and that devices to isolate electrical energy were not used by authorized employees. Alleged serious violations were issued for failing to perform adequate lockout periodic reviews, failing to train supervisors in lockout and failing to retrain employees in lockout procedures when job duties changed. Other alleged serious violations were for failing to provide annual fire extinguisher training and failing to guard a chain and sprocket.

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