Two workers at a Georgia plastics plant have sustained disabling finger amputations within two weeks of each other, prompting federal authorities to conduct an investigation that resulted in heavy fines for a multitude of safety violations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said it immediately investigated Primex Plastics Corp.’s facility in Oakwood, Ga., in March after learning about the amputations on Feb. 28, 2015.
Primex is a subsidiary of ICC Industries Inc. with headquarters in Richmond, Ind. Its manufacturing facilities are located in Georgia, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Nevada. The company employs more than 1,100 workers.
According to OSHA, “both workers had their middle and ring fingers amputated as they removed material jammed in shearing machines that cut plastic.” The accidental amputations occurred less than two weeks apart, indicating the company failed to take preventative action before the injuries and corrective action afterward. Both of the injuries occurred on similar machines, company officials told OSHA inspectors.
OSHA issued repeated citations for the company’s failure to provide workers exposed to high temperatures with protective equipment and for storing oxygen and acetylene cylinders together. The agency said it previously cited Primex previously for similar violations late last year at another Primex Plastics plant.
Inspectors cited the company for 18 serious violations for its failure to eliminate recognized hazards in the workplace; ignoring procedures to prevent the accidental startup of machinery during maintenance; failure to properly protect workers from excessive noise; failure to properly safeguard shearing machines, drill presses, and other dangerous equipment; and exposing workers to falling hazards, among other violations.
Proposed fines for all of the violations total $141,000.
“Worker safety, not profits, must be a company’s priority,” said Atlanta OSHA director Bill Fulcher. “Unfortunately, it took two amputations for Primex to address known safety hazards at this facility.”