Two workers lost fingers at this manufacturing plant in the span of three months. In the inspection that followed, OSHA inspectors found 22 violations related to hazards that caused the injuries and other safety issues. The company faces $125,165 in fines.
In November of last year, a worker at Elite Storage Solutions LLC in Monroe, GA, was operating a power press at the metal racking systems manufacturer. He was using the press to stamp small parts for a rack when his hand entered the machine. His left ring finger was severed.
In a second incident, a worker was trying to stand up a 353-pound rack when it tipped over, pushing the worker to the floor and mangling his hand. He lost his left index finger.
In the first injury, OSHA said the company didn’t properly guard the machine to prevent the worker’s hand from entering it. In the second incident, OSHA said the company should have secured the rack.
All told, inspectors issued 22 serious violations, including:
- exposing employees to amputation hazards by not ensuring welded metal beams were secured
- failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance
- obstructing exit routes
- exposing workers to fall hazards up to heights of 10 feet
- not ensuring employees performing maintenance or service on equipment were trained, according to the company’s safety procedures
- failing to have safety guards on several pieces of machinery
- allowing employees to work in a 480-volt electrical panel without PPE at risk of electrocution or shock hazards
- failing to have a respiratory protection training program, and
- storing an oxygen cylinder without a valve protection cap.
Reporting injuries led to inspection
OSHA implemented new injury reporting rules at the beginning of this year requiring employers to report amputations, worker hospitalizations and loss of an eye within 24 hours. The agency says that new rule tipped inspectors off to safety issues at Elite.
Here’s director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office Bill Fulcher:
“We investigated the first incident and this is when OSHA became aware of numerous hazards at this workplace. Hazardous working conditions cannot go unaddressed, especially when workers are suffering permanent injuries.”
According to a recent speech by OSHA boss David Michaels, the agency has inspected about 34% of companies that have filed reports of serious injuries. But he said the agency is “engaging” with every company that files a report.
Elite employs about 260 workers. It has 15 days to respond the the citations.