An Alabama automotive parts manufacturer will have to pay $103,000 in penalties after an investigation triggered by the amputation of a plant worker’s arm and fingers exposed a number of safety deficiencies that violate federal rules.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulators inspected the Huntsville, Ala. plant of Matsu Alabama Inc., doing business as Matcor Automotive Inc., on Sept. 29 in response to a workplace accident that permanently disfigured a temporary worker. Matcor makes and supplies various auto parts to a number of automakers, including Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.
According to OSHA, the worker was using a mechanical power press when the machine severed the lower section of his right arm and three fingers on his left hand. The worker was provided by Surge Staffing LLC, a temporary staffing agency, which did not receive any OSHA citations in connection with the accident.
OSHA reported that the accidental amputations occurred because of improperly guarded machinery and lack of safety procedures to prevent the machine from turning on during maintenance and servicing. The agency said that the company had been cited before for its failure to guard rotating chucks and spindles on milling drilling machines but had not corrected the problem.
Other violations, which OSHA deemed serious, included failure to ensure safety devices and auxiliary equipment were effective and operating properly; failure to provide training and instruction on safely operating mechanical power presses; failure to reduce compressed air for cleaning to less than 30 pounds per square inch; and failure to prevent press operators from hanging the mode of operation without supervision.
Matsu/Matcor was also cited for failing to report the amputation to OSHA within seven days as companies are required to do under federal law.
On Sept. 29, 2015, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Judge John B. Gatto affirmed all of the citations except for “failure to prevent press operators from changing the press mode without supervision,” but hit the company with the maximum $70,000 penalty for the repeat violation, raising total penalties to $103,000 — $28,000 more than the total penalties OSHA regulators initially proposed.
“Matsu Alabama failed in its responsibility to protect employees, including those who are temporary, by not providing proper machine guarding or operational training for a worker,” said regional OSHA administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta. “The worker was primarily assigned to perform janitorial duties and had no experience operating a mechanical power press. Unfortunately, the employer’s failure in following OSHA’s standards has permanently disabled a worker when this incident could have been prevented.”