OSHA says if a company hadn’t disabled a machine guard, a 32-year-old worker who was struck and killed by a part would be alive today. Now the company faces a huge fine due to per-instance citations.
The incident occurred at Wire Mesh Sales in Jacksonville, FL. According to OSHA, in Aug. 2013, the worker entered a large wire mesh manufacturing machine to retrieve a fallen metal bar. That’s when he was struck and killed. The light curtain that would have turned the machine off before the worker entered had been disabled.
In a press release, OSHA called proper operation of machine guards “a basic Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement.”
Now the fence manufacturer faces $697,700 in OSHA fines for 8 per-instance willful, 22 serious, 1 repeat and four other-than-serious violations.
The per-instance violations were for lockout/tagout violations on four machines, and lack of guarding on four machines. At $70,000 each, these citations alone total $560,000.
When there is a particularly egregious lack of compliance and exposure to hazards, OSHA can issue citations on a per-instance basis, in this case, representing one willful violation for each machine in violation.
The 22 serious citations include:
- a factory floor cluttered with broken pallets creating a hazard that could lead to workers tripping and falling into moving machine parts
- an electrical outlet left on the ground wrapped in tape that posed a shock hazard, and
- a bathroom sink that had been clogged for months with maggots swimming in standing water.
OSHA has also placed Wire Mesh in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program which focuses on inspecting employers who have been issued willful, repeat or failure-to-abate citations.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to decide whether to contest them.
In a statement to Jacksonville.com, Michael Prendergast, an attorney representing Wire Mesh, said the company “is committed to providing a safe work environment. We’re going to review the citations, and we’re going to do what’s right.”