Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has cited an automotive hose manufacturer over a critical arm injury of an employee, resulting in a $70,000 fine.
In February 2016, a worker of HBD/Thermoid Inc., based in Dublin, Ohio, was critically injured when his arm became caught in a catapuller, a powerful machine that pulls hoses through their stages of production. The man’s arm was crushed.
The machines have safety plexiglass guards on hinges that can be opened when safe and necessary. But there was debate as to whether or not the guard had been left propped open the day before the incident, Business Insurance reports.
According to the injured employee’s testimony, he was climbing a set of adjacent stairs when the propped-open guard snapped down on his hand, which jerked his arm into the machine. HBD argued against his story, claiming it didn’t make sense. The company accused the worker of lifting the guard and reaching into the catapuller while the machine was running.
The OSHA citation determined the violation was failure to develop, document and utilize lockout/tagout procedures to service the machine. The company contested it.
The judge, however, said it didn’t matter exactly how the employee became injured. The more important focus is whether or not the company provided efficient safety protection for its workers.
“The Secretary has established HBD had actual knowledge the hinged side guard … could be bypassed by (workers), and thus was inadequate to guard the ingoing nip points,” the judge said. The judge affirmed the citation, pointing out that the company was well aware of the unsafe condition because of video proof of workers opening the guards while the machine was running.
“The gravity of the violation is high,” the judge warned. “HBD operated three shifts over twenty-four hours each day, with a reeler working for eight hours per shift. A reeler’s duties include constantly monitoring the hose being run for drag marks, which can bring the reeler in proximity to the inadequate side guard at any time during the shift. The likelihood of injury is moderate, but if an injury does occur, it is likely to be severe. The precaution of installing an easily bypassed guard … was inadequate to protect against employee injuries.”
The judge acknowledged HBD’s efforts for having the safety guards at all, but faulted the company for not properly enforcing its appropriate use. The judge determined the company would be fined $70,000, as the company is considered to be a large employer with multiple OSHA violations in its history, including two other workers whose hands became caught and crushed in the catapuller.