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Alabama Company Cited for 10 Serious Safety Violations After Employee Amputation

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RPS Composites, Alabama, provides engineered composite solutions to industrial companies for corrosive fluid handling, storage, and infrastructure applications. Though headquartered in Canada, they have facilities in Washington D.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Birmingham, Alabama; and Mobile, Alabama; as well as in Louisiana, Texas, and Salt Lake City.

The company’s facility in Mobile, Alabama was recently cited for safety and health violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with proposed fines of $74,833.

Pipe Winding Machine Injury

OSHA Cites RPS Composites for 10 Serious Safety Violations

OSHA reported on February 16, 2018, that they investigated RPS Composites’ Alabama facility after receiving a report of an employee injury. The worker was wearing safety gloves and was using a pipe-winding machine when the gloved hand was pulled into a machine. The employee lost a finger.

OSHA found during their investigation that the company was not taking the proper steps to adequately protect their employees. They cited them for 10 serious and two other-than-serious violations. These included the following:

  • Exposing employees to struck-by and caught-in hazards;
  • Failing to install proper machine guarding;
  • Failing to train employees on how to control energy sources; and
  • Allowing combustible dust to accumulate.

OSHA Mobile Area Office Director, Joseph Roesler, stated that employers need to evaluate workspaces “to ensure employees are provided appropriate training, and the equipment they use is properly guarded to prevent amputation hazards.”

Over 2,500 Amputations Reported in 2015

According to OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program, out of 10,388 total workplace injuries in 2015, a total of 2,644 (25%) of them were amputations. OSHA added that most of the hazards that led to these injuries “are well-understood and easily prevented.” In most cases, installing guarding over dangerous machinery is effective.

The manufacturing industry had the highest proportion of accidents, accounting for 57 percent of all amputations. Other dangerous industries included construction, transportation, and warehousing, as well as oil and gas extraction.

OSHA also noted that often when they investigated a serious injury, they found a history of other serious injuries at the same place.

“Each of those injuries was a wake-up call for safety that went unheeded,”

They said in a statement.

OSHA Provides Guidelines on Machine Guarding

OSHA states in a fact sheet on amputations that they are some of the most debilitating workplace injuries, and occur most often when workers are operating one of the following:

  • Power presses and power press brakes
  • Powered and non-powered conveyors
  • Printing presses
  • Roll-forming and roll-bending machines
  • Food slicers
  • Meat grinders and meat-cutting band saws
  • Drill presses
  • Milling machines

Amputations can also happen when employees are using forklifts and doors as well as trash compactors and power tools. To prevent these types of injuries, OSHA provides guidelines for companies to follow.

The most important is to make sure all machinery is equipped with the appropriate guards. These provide physical barriers between the dangerous parts of the machine and the operator’s hands, arms, and body. OSHA advises that these guards should be “secure and strong, and workers should not be able to bypass, remove, or tamper with them.”

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