Earlier this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) responded to multiple complaints brought by workers at a plant that manufactures garage door hardware, who alleged they were exposed to numerous safety hazards whenever they were on the job.
Last month, OSHA announced it had investigated the workers’ complaints and inspected working conditions at Archbold-based Napolean Spring Works Inc. That investigation resulted in 16 citations for 15 serious safety violations and one bad enough to be deemed “willful” by the agency. OSHA fined Spring Works $147,600 for the infractions, some of which posed significant risk of amputation to the employees.
“Our inspection found that employees were exposed to injury and amputation risk in this facility because of insufficient guarding at the point of operation of various machines,” said Toledo-based OSHA Director Kim Nelson. “Amputation hazards are one of the leading causes of injury in manufacturing. Napoleon Spring Works must be aware of workplace hazards and take all precautions to protect its workers.”
A recent report published this month by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation corroborates OSHA’s findings and underscores the need for better worker protections, especially in a state as reliant on manufacturing as Ohio.
According to the state data, more than 5,000 workers have suffered amputation injuries since 2005 in Ohio alone. From 2005 to 2012, state compensation claims for amputations received on the job numbered 5,405, meaning that more than 675 Ohio workers suffer some form of amputation on average every year.
Although most of the injuries were not life-threatening and involved workers losing parts of their fingers or thumbs, some of the amputations were among the most severe and debilitating type of workplace injuries involving losses of entire limbs.
According to Bill Wilkerson, area director of OSHA’s Cincinnati office, unguarded equipment is one of the main causes of severe physical injuries that result in amputation, the Dayton Daily News reported. OSHA has organized amputation awareness campaigns and prevention efforts in recent months to help draw attention to the risk of amputations in Ohio and all of the states.