Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Aluminium company inspected yet again, and fined yet again....

Long ago one of the editors of the Aluminium Plant Safety Blog started his career in the steel industry. He had one customer that was located in a metropolitan city in the USA. This customer had been around for 50+ years and while other heavy industry fled the city this company remained. Nearby the city trained fire inspectors and on a regular basis this company would be inspected. This company would be cited for the most minor and mundane violations. Overtime the inspections grew and the new fire inspectors in some ways became vindictive. The company found little respite in complaining to the authorities. Eventually the company was forced to move out of the city. The 40 plus jobs were replaced by a few who took over the factory and made it a warehouse. The APSB has seen over the past few years that some government safety agencies have shifted toward a more adversarial relationship with industry. Here is a recent story of an aluminium company that has been subjected to numerous inspections.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a an aluminum company with three citations and over $85,000 fine on Sept. 23 stemming from two separate fingertip amputations and a thumb injury this Spring.

OSHA initiated an inspection of the aluminum company in late April following the amputation of a worker’s fingertip while the employee was feeding aluminum pieces into a roll-forming machine, the federal agency said in an Oct. 5 press release. During the agency’s investigation, a worker suffered a thumb injury and another incident resulted in the amputation of an employee’s fingertip.

The aluminium company was cited for a lack of machine guarding and a failure to report the amputation in the required timeframe. OSHA cited the company for similar violation in May 2012 and March 2016.

“In 2015, our investigation found 44 safety violations at the facility including amputation hazards related to the lack of machine guarding. This employer has taken no action to protect its workers and serious and senseless injuries are the result. This is unacceptable,” the director of OSHA’s area office said in a statement.

The aluminium company has 15 business days after the citation issue date to request a conference with the OSHA area director, contest the findings before an independent board, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, or comply with the penalties.

First and foremost we chose to omit the company name and location regarding citations and fines because the company has the right to argue against the citations.

Due to our extensive travel schedule throughout the globe it is not unusual for us to post an incident and have either visited that plant or will visit that plant in the future. We have visited the plant in this post. We are taken aback by the tone of the OSHA spokesperson’s quote. Especially, “This employer has taken no action to protect its workers and serious and senseless injuries are the result. This is unacceptable”. If given the opportunity I would ask the spokesperson of what was their motivation to public shame (possibly slander) a company after an incident? Because of our experience in this particular plant we disagree with the “has taken no action” to protect its workers. We had viewed numerous improvements

We do not know why OSHA has changed long ago it seemed they cared about forging partnerships with specific industries to address specific hazards. To now where OSHA is viewed through an adversarial relationship.

The APSB acknowledges the seriousness of the citations in this post. But we are confident that the existing plant management and personnel are working diligently to make a safe working environment.

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