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Judge Upholds OSHA Citations and Penalties in Rochester Amputation Case

Judge Upholds OSHA Citations and Penalties in Rochester Amputation Case

American Recycling & Manufacturing Co. Inc. ordered to pay $154,000 in fines.

An employee of American Recycling & Manufacturing Co. Inc., located in Rochester, N.Y., lost his left hand in December 2012 when a co-worker stepped on the unprotected foot pedal that activated an unguarded pop-up table saw.

An inspection by OSHA found that both the saw and the pedal were not shielded to prevent accidental contact or activation. OSHA also identified numerous other hazards and cited the company in May 2013 for willful and serious violations.

At the time the citations were issued, Arthur Dube, the area director in Buffalo, commented, “This is exactly the type of incident and injury that machine guarding is designed to prevent. Had the foot pedal been properly guarded, this injury would not have occurred. Compounding this hazard is the fact that the employer was aware and did not correct it.”

American Recycling & Manufacturing Co. Inc. contested its citations to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, and a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Dennis L. Phillips in October 2014.

Nearly a year later, Phillips has issued a decision affirming the citations.

“This decision upholds our findings that conditions at this workplace endangered employees and that two of those violations – those involving the saw and the foot pedal – contributed to the preventable loss of an employee's hand,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “It’s up to this employer to take and maintain effective corrective action so that these hazards are eliminated and future injuries are prevented.”

Phillips ordered the company to pay $154,800 in penalties and correct the cited hazards. The judge found that the employer had received numerous complaints from employees about the hazards of the saw and the foot pedal, but failed to take corrective action. Further, caution signs posted on the saw were in English but several employees, including the injured worker, were not fluent in English and could not understand the warnings.

“OSHA cited this employer for conditions that directly affected the safety and health of its employees and this decision affirms OSHA’s findings,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, regional solicitor of labor in New York. “It also serves as a reminder to employers that we will take the necessary and appropriate legal steps to uphold citations and ensure that employers comply with the law.”

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