An employee is injured while using a new machine during training. The training didn’t exactly mimic how employees would operate the machine in “real life.” Did that argument get the company off the hook for an OSHA fine?
Turner Industries Group had been training employees on the use of a new pipe-cutting machine for two weeks. A representative from the machine’s manufacturer was conducting the training.
Workers accessed the machine’s points of operation to take measurements and make adjustments. One of the points of operation had a guard. The other did not.
During training, an employee was working at the unguarded point. The worker was taking measurements when the trainer unexpectedly started the machine.
The machine’s spinning bevels caused severe injuries to the employee’s hand.
OSHA issued one serious citation against Turner for failing to provide a guarding device for both operational access points on the pipe-cutting machine. The fine: $2,625.
On appeal, an administrative law judge (ALJ) upheld the citation but reduced the penalty to $1,000.
Turner appealed a second time to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), which upheld the citation and reduced fine.
The company then took the case to a U.S. appeals court.
The court noted that, at the OSHRC hearing, a Turner supervisor testified that, during training, three people were operating the machine: a Turner employee at each access point and the trainer at the control panel.
The supervisor contended that having more than one person operate the machine was unique to the training. During normal working conditions, the machine would be operated by only one person. The supervisor claimed that having only one operator would substantially cut down or negate the possibility that the machine would be running when an employee accesses an operation point.
However, Turner’s own Job Safety Analysis indicated that under normal working conditions, Turner expected two people to be operating the machine together.
The appeals court said, contrary to Turner’s argument, a hazard did exist. The citation and fine were upheld.
(Turner Industries Group v. OSHRC, U.S. Circuit Crt. 5, No. 10-60348, 1/14/2011. You can download a PDF of the court’s decision here.)
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