A 21-year old worker suffered permanent, debilitating injuries in a South Elgin, Ill., aluminum products plant because his employer did not take basic safety steps to prevent its workers from being maimed by dangerous machinery, federal authorities said Thursday.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that the worker had been employed by Custom Aluminum Products just four weeks when his hands entered the “danger zone” of metal press he was feeding. The machine amputated six of his fingers – the ring, middle, and index fingers on each hand plus part of his right pinky finger.
Under new federal rules that took effect Jan. 1, 2015, employers must report any severe work-related injury, defined as an amputation, loss of an eye, and any injury requiring hospitalization, to OSHA within 24 hours. The new reporting rule helps OSHA detect and respond to safety problems more efficiently.
Illinois employers reported 173 amputations in the first full year since the new rule took effect. In fact, amputation hazards are one of the most frequently cited OSHA violations.
OSHA investigated Custom Aluminum Products’ South Elgin plant after the Nov. 4 amputation and cited the company on April 29 for one willful and one serious violation, with total proposed penalties of $70,000.
“It’s hard to imagine the agony and pain this young man suffered when six of his fingers were amputated,” said Jake Scott, OSHA’s area director in Aurora, Illinois. “His life is now forever altered because the press lacked required safe guarding devices. These devices would have prevented his hands from coming in contact with the operating parts of the machine.”
Source: U.S. Department of Labor