ANDOVER, Mass. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Spincraft in North Billerica for 38 alleged violations of workplace safety standards. An inspection was opened after OSHA learned that a worker sustained serious eye and facial injuries when the grinding wheel of the portable grinder he was operating ruptured and kicked back in his face. Inspectors found that the grinder was not guarded or set up properly, and steps had not been taken to ensure that it was operated at the proper speed. The metal fabrication plant faces a total of $175,500 in proposed penalties.
“This is exactly the type of needless injury OSHA standards are designed to prevent,” said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts. “Portable hand tools are just as dangerous as large machinery if they are not properly maintained and used.”
The inspection also uncovered other hazards throughout the plant, including obstructed exit access, improper propane storage, failure to inspect cranes on a frequent and regular basis, failure to inspect crane running ropes and test crane upper limit switches, a lack of hazard communication training and numerous electrical hazards, as well as unguarded ladderway openings, floor holes, and open-sided floors and platforms. A total of 32 serious violations carrying $173,000 in proposed penalties were cited. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
“The sizable penalties proposed here reflect both the severity of the grinder hazards as well as the breadth and range of additional mechanical, electrical and other hazards found throughout the plant,” added Erskine. “Left uncorrected, these hazards expose employees to the dangers of falls, electric shocks, crushing injuries, slipping and tripping hazards, and being unable to exit the workplace swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency.”
Six other-than-serious violations with $2,500 in fines were cited for undocumented energy control procedures and additional machine guarding, crane, electrical and hazard communication issues. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Spincraft-citation-02-03-315431494.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Spincraft-citation-01-315431494.pdf.*
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Andover Area Office; telephone 781-837-4460. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
OSHA’s enforcement is becoming more and more active. This is a common issue that we find at many worksites that we visit. Contact us today to develop a strong safety program to protect your employees from this type of accident as well as many others. The time to act is before someone gets hurt or OSHA hits you with a citation.