Judge Affirms OSHA Fines

Friday, October 9, 2015 @ 05:10 PM gHale

A judge affirmed a decision against Matsu Alabama Inc., doing business as a division of Matcor Automotive Inc., a manufacturer and supplier of automotive parts.

On Sept. 29, 2015, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Judge John B. Gatto affirmed seven citations against Matsu Alabama, resulting in a total of $103,000 in penalties. Matsu Alabama supplies parts to various companies, including General Motors, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and Nissan.

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One year ago, on Sept. 30, 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the employer eight safety citations, with $75,000 in proposed penalties, after a temporary worker’s right lower arm and three fingers on his left hand ended up amputated by a mechanical power press at the company’s manufacturing facility in Huntsville, AL. At the time, Matsu Alabama utilized Surge Staffing LLC as an on-site temporary staffing service. OSHA did not issue citations to the staffing agency.

The company received citations for one repeat violation for its failure to guard rotating chucks and spindles on milling and drilling machines. Six violations designated as serious include failing to:
• Guard the point of operation on a mechanical power press, which led to the amputation
• Provide safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing
• Conduct power press inspections to ensure safety devices and auxiliary equipment were effective and operating properly
• Provide training and instruction on safely operating the mechanical power press
• Reduce compressed air for cleaning to less than 30 pounds per square inch
• Prevent press operators from changing the press mode without supervision

One other-than-serious citation was for failing to record an amputation incident and the resulting lost time on the OSHA 300 log within seven days. Matsu contested OSHA’s citations and an OSHRC hearing was scheduled.

On Sept. 29, Judge Gatto ordered deleted the serious violation involving “failure to prevent press operators from changing the press mode without supervision.” The judge affirmed the remaining citations and determined to increase the repeat violation to the maximum penalty of $70,000.

“Matsu Alabama failed in its responsibility to protect employees, including those who are temporary, by not providing proper machine guarding or operational training for a worker. The worker was primarily assigned to perform janitorial duties and had no experience operating a mechanical power press,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “Unfortunately, the employer’s failure in following OSHA’s standards has permanently disabled a worker when this incident could have been prevented.”