Federal safety officials investigating the amputation of a 23-year-old worker’s three fingertips at a Wisconsin cardboard manufacturer found the accident would have been prevented had the company trained workers in how to safely clear a jam from a chopping machine.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Arcadia, Wisconsin-based Industrial Packaging Corporation for one willful and eight serious safety violations, with proposed penalties of $118,000 after investigating the accident.
The agency said that energy sources to the chopping blade were not properly isolated when the worker attempted to clear a jam with his hand inside the machine where blades were located. This violation of lockout/tag out procedures allowed the chopping machine to turn on when the worker’s hand was inside.
In addition to the lack of required machine guards, OSHA also found that Industrial Packing Corp. failed to train workers to use cut-resistant gloves, place chopper blades in safe positions during set-up and maintenance, and review energy-control procedures with workers at least once a year.
“Training workers and using blocking and locking devices, as required by OSHA standards, would have prevented this young man’s hands from coming in contact with the operating parts of the machine,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire. “Workers should never reach inside the danger zone of a machine without de-energizing it and using lockout/tag out procedures to prevent a sudden startup.”
Since Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA has required all employers to report any severe work-related injury – defined as a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye – within 24 hours. This new rule allows OSHA to track and respond to workplace injuries more efficiently. Since the new reporting rule, OSHA has determined that amputation hazards remain among the most frequent safety violations. In the first full year of the program, Wisconsin employers reported 157 accidental amputations.