Although employers in Ohio must protect the health and safety of their employees, safety regulations are sometimes willfully disregarded to speed up production. Penalties were recently proposed against a business owner who allegedly ordered workers to bypass safety devices and threatened them with disciplinary action if production quotas were not met. The investigation into an amputation injury incident by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also resulted in the automobile parts manufacturer being added to the agency’s list of severe violators.
Investigators determined that the lack of safeguards on machines led to a temporary employee to suffer an amputation injury on his first day on the job. The 22-year-old man partially lost two of his fingers. OSHA reported that this company had been the subject of no less than 10 investigations since 2007. Two of those investigations — one of which involved amputations — were conducted in July and September last year.
OSHA investigators determined that employees of this company were not trained in lockout/tagout safety procedures. In fact, to speed up production, interlocks to prevent unanticipated startups were bypassed. This was done on robotic equipment used to weld cells and bend tubes and also during cleaning and maintenance of dangerous equipment. The agency said the company created a risk culture that showed an unacceptable disregard of worker’ safety.
Ohio workers who have to live with the consequences of amputation injuries will not only have to cope with high medical and rehabilitation costs, but their new physical challenges may jeopardize their careers. Fortunately, victims may file benefits claims with the workers’ compensation insurance system that will cover medical expenses and a portion of lost income. Furthermore, opportunities may be offered to learn new skills during arranged vocational training.
Source: workerscompensation.com, “OSHA Cites Ohio Vehicle Parts Manufacturer for Failing to Protect its Workers from Machine Hazards“, Oct. 25, 2016