Employee death prompts OSHA investigation, fines

Employee death prompts OSHA investigation, fines

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently completed an investigation of ATW Automation Inc. in Dayton, Ohio, which resulted in nine safety violations and was performed following an incident when a worker was killed from blunt force trauma.

The accident occurred at the company's machine manufacturing plant in Dayton when the worker became ensnared by a conveyor. The machine was typically found overhead, but had been lowered during a "power down" process. The worker was taken to a hospital, but days later, died from his injuries.

"ATW Automation has a responsibility to mandate effective measures that control hazardous energy in its manufacturing facility to ensure that machines will not become unexpectedly energized, which poses a risk of injury or death to workers. Failing to do so resulted in a tragedy," said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "Employers who are cited for safety, especially repeat, violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health."

Of the nine violations, one was a repeat violation for failing to conduct and document periodic inspections of unique energy control procedures that were in place in the company's fabrication and tool room division. According to OSHA, a repeat violation is given out when an employer is cited for the same violation within in a limited time span at the same facility.

The company was cited for not having the proper documentation of inspections in July 2008 during an investigation that took place as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program on Amputations. The first investigation led to five serious violations.

ATW also received seven serious violations for failing to install a guard around the conveyor that would have prevented the worker from being exposed to moving parts, and for not properly training employees how to properly wear personal protective equipment when working near the machinery. In addition to failing to use appropriate safety products, the company was also cited for not effectively communicating that the plant was operating in "power down" condition.

The serious violations were also given out for the company's failure to create a specific energy control procedure for its asset maintenance program. OSHA issues serious violations when there is "substantial probability" of death in a workplace, based on a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about.

The one other-than-serious violation was given for failing to conduct annual tests of insulated rubber gloves.

OSHA performs random inspections to enforce the laws that have been created to keep employees safe from inherent work hazards. These inspections, which are conducted by OSHA compliance safety and health officers, can lead to serious downtime if proper documentation is not readily available, and can also lead to fines and other additional costs. 

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