2 Amputations Bring Safety Fines

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 @ 03:09 PM gHale

In separate incidents less than two weeks apart, two employees sustained disabling injuries at Primex Plastics Corp. in Oakwood, GA, and now the company is facing $141,100 in fines for 22 safety and health violations, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Both workers had their middle and ring fingers amputated as they removed material jammed in shearing machines that cut plastic, OSHA officials said. OSHA cited the plastics manufacturer Aug. 27 for two repeated, 18 serious and two other-than-serious safety and health violations.

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After learning of the Feb. 28, amputation, OSHA immediately opened an investigation in March. During OSHA’s inspection, company officials told the inspectors that a second amputation had occurred the night before on a similar machine.

“Worker safety, not profits, must be a company’s priority,” said Bill Fulcher, OSHA’s director of the Atlanta-East Area Office. “Unfortunately, it took two amputations for Primex to address known safety hazards at this facility.”

OSHA issued repeated citations for failing to provide workers exposed to high temperatures with protective equipment, and for storing together oxygen and acetylene cylinders. The agency cited Primex previously for similar violations in December 2014 at its New Jersey facility.

The agency cited serious citations for the following issues:
• Failure to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards
• Ignoring procedures to prevent machines from sudden start up during maintenance and service
• Not implementing protections for workers exposed to excessive noise
• Failing to ensure properly guarded machinery, such as shearing machines and a drill press
• Exposing workers to falls

A subsidiary of ICC Industries Inc., Primex has headquarters in Richmond, IN, and maintains facilities in Georgia, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Nevada. The company employs over 1,100 workers.