A worker’s accidental finger amputation at a fiberglass pipe manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama, has led to a dozen citations for safety violations and a fine of nearly $75,000.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that the accidental amputation occurred at RPS Composites Alabama Inc. and faulted the company for its failure to properly guard machines, including the one that the injured worker had been using.
The agency noted that the worker was wearing safety gloves when using a pipe-winding machine and that the gloved hand was pulled into the machine, resulting in the finger amputation.
After an investigation of the amputation and inspection of the plant, OSHA authorities cited RPS Composites with 10 serious safety violations and two other-than-serious violations. The violations included failure to install proper machine guarding to prevent accidental amputations and other injuries; exposing employees to struck-by hazards; exposing employees to chemical hazards and failure to give them protective gear; exposing workers to electrical and energy-control sources; hazardous accumulations of combustible dust; and other safety lapses.
“Employers must evaluate their workplace to ensure employees are provided appropriate training, and the equipment they use is properly guarded to prevent amputation hazards,” said OSHA Mobile Area Office Director Joseph Roesler in a press release.
Total fines for the safety violations amounted to $74,833.
Amputations are among the most serious and debilitating injuries that can happen in the workplace and can seriously threaten a person’s lifetime ability to work. Accidental workplace amputations are also widespread and involve a variety of activities and equipment.
According to OSHA, amputations occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and non-powered conveyors, printing presses, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, food slicers, meat grinders, meat-cutting band saws, drill presses, and milling machines.
Amputations also commonly occur when workers use forklifts, trash compactors, and hand tools.
Outside of normal machine operation, workers who service, maintain, or clean industrial machinery are also at risk of amputation if the machines are improperly guarded and prevented from turning on accidentally.