An accidental finger amputation at a Georgia auto parts manufacturer prompted a federal safety investigation that led to proposed maximum penalties for safety lapses.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that an employee of HP Pelzer Systems Automotive Inc. had been removing a gearbox from an energized scissor lift when it suddenly rotated, causing the amputation of part of the employee’s finger.
OSHA cited the company for one repeat violation for its failure to train employees on energy control procedures to prevent machines from powering on unexpectedly during servicing and maintenance. Because OSHA had warned HP Pelzer Systems of the safety violation in the past and the potential amputation hazard went uncorrected, authorities proposed the maximum allowable fine of $129,336.
“Employers must provide adequate training and appropriate protective equipment to ensure the safety of their employees,” said William Fulcher, OSHA Atlanta-East Area Office director. “This company has a history of repeated disregard for safety requirements, exposing workers to amputation hazards. OSHA will continue to hold this company accountable to ensure the safety of employees.”
OSHA records show that HP Pelzer was cited in Sept. 2016 for 21 safety violations, including a dozen repeated violations, with proposed penalties totaling $704,610. At the time, OSHA said that HP Pelzer, which manufactures parts for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat-Chrysler, Subaru and General Motors, was among the employers in the automotive industry that continually expose workers to common workplace hazards that lead to amputation, electrocution, falling, and burn injuries, among others.
According to OSHA, some of the most common amputation hazards in the workplace are:
- Mechanical power presses
- Power press brakes
- Powered and non-powered conveyors
- Printing presses
- Roll-forming and roll-bending machines
- Food slicers
- Meat grinders
- Band saws
- Drill presses
- Milling machines
- Shears, grinders, and slitters
- Table and portable saws
“Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers must protect workers from amputation hazards through adequate guarding and employee training on how to do the job safely,” OSHA said.