Mass. Metals Plant Fined for Safety Hazards; Employee Caught in Machinery

April 7, 2005

An Attleboro, Mass., metals manufacturing plant faces $89,100 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following an Oct. 10, 2004, accident in which an employee suffered crushing injuries after being dragged into a metal-forming machine.

Engineered Materials Solutions Inc., 39 Perry Ave., was cited for a total of 29 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following OSHA safety and health inspections conducted between Oct. 19, 2004 and Feb. 17, 2005.

Regarding the accident, the safety inspection reportedly found that the machine had not been guarded to prevent employees from being caught in its moving parts. In addition, the company had not established and enforced lockout/tagout procedures for employees performing cleaning and maintenance work on the machine. Such procedures are required to prevent the machine’s accidental startup by ensuring it is completely shut down and its power source locked out before work begins.

Other conditions reportedly cited during the safety inspection included numerous additional instances of unguarded machinery; exposed live electrical parts; ungrounded electrical equipment; lack of required eyewash stations and face protection for employees; slings not marked to show their lifting capacity; missing stair rails; and a flammable storage cabinet that did not meet minimal fire resistance requirements.

A concurrent OSHA health inspection identified several hazards involving cadmium, an extremely toxic metal. These included employees exposed to excess levels of cadmium; ineffective steps to reduce exposure levels; inadequate monitoring of workers for exposure; cadmium-contaminated surfaces in the break room, change room and other locations; inadequate or improper methods of cleaning up cadmium; and an incomplete cadmium compliance plan.

“The number and breadth of hazards found here are cause for serious concern,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for southeastern Massachusetts. “Effective steps must be taken and maintained to both prevent future accidents and protect workers against a highly toxic substance.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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