An Alhambra, California, foundry faces fines of more than $280,000 for occupational safety and health violations that contributed to a worker suffering a double leg amputation on the job last year.
As with so many persistent industrial amputation accidents across the country, the accidental amputation at Alhambra Foundry Co. occurred due to inadequate lockout/tagout procedures, which are intended to prevent machinery from powering on when workers maintaining, servicing, or cleaning the machine.
According to Cal/OSHA, on Aug. 28, two workers at the foundry were cleaning and unjamming a 38-foot-long auger screw conveyor at the bottom of an industrial air filtration device without effectively de-energizing or locking out the equipment.
One of the workers re-entered the 20-inch square opening after the cleaning was done to retrieve a work light from inside the confined space when a maintenance worker 45 feet away turned the equipment on to perform a test.
The moving auger screw pulled the worker into the screw conveyor. Paramedics were able to stop the worker’s bleeding and stabilize him, but they were unable to free him from the machine.
After treating the worker with pain medication and fluids, the emergency responders determined that an emergency double-leg amputation on site would be the only way to remove him from the hopper, mynewsLA.com reported.
After the amputation was completed, the worker was taken to a Los Angeles hospital for treatment.
“Sending a worker into a confined space is dangerous, especially inside machinery that can be powered on at any time,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in a statement “Employers must ensure that machinery and equipment are de-energized and locked out before workers enter the space to perform operations involving cleaning and servicing.”
Cal/OSHA officials said their investigation found that the foundry did not have the permit-required confined space program; the screw conveyor was not de-energized and locked out before workers entered the hopper; and accident prevention signs were not placed on the controls.
Additionally, the worker re-entering the machine was not monitored by a confined space attendant, and Alhambra Foundry lacked specific procedures for de-energizing and locking out the equipment, Cal/OSHA reported.
The agency cited Alhambra Foundry Co. for eight safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $283,390. All of the violations but one were deemed wither willful or serious.