For the fifth time in three years, federal investigators ended up called to an Ohio aluminum foundry to investigate the serious injury of a worker.
In the latest incident, a mold-tilting machine used to produce aluminum parts crushed a 53-year-old worker’s left hand between the center core and bottom plate at General Aluminum Mfg. Company’s Conneaut facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The worker now has limited use of the hand and has been unable to return to work since the March 23 injury.
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In 2013 and 2015, four workers suffered amputations, in separate incidents, as a result of machine safety violations at the company facilities in Wapokaneta, Ravenna and Conneaut.
Based in Cleveland, General Aluminum Mfg. is a full-service aluminum die casting supplier to a wide variety of industries including the automotive, agricultural, industrial, and appliance industries which operates five facilities in Indiana and Ohio.
For the latest incident, OSHA investigators cited the company for two repeated, and two serious violations of machine safety standards, as a result of the worker’s injury. OSHA has proposed penalties of $218,244.
“General Aluminum has written an unfortunate legacy of failing to protect its workers from machine hazards,” said Howard Eberts, area director of OSHA’s Cleveland office. “All too often, OSHA finds employers are complacent with machine safety features. Each year hundreds of workers suffer crushing injuries and amputations. The company needs to immediately address its legacy of worker injuries and make immediate improvements to its procedures, training and monitoring of machine safety procedures to ensure they are effective.”
An investigation into the March incident by federal inspectors found General Aluminum allowed workers to service the mold table without powering it down or locking out machine parts to prevent workers from coming in contact with gravitational energy from moving machine parts.
OSHA’s inspection found the company routinely failed to follow proper procedures to fully power down equipment to prevent sudden movement or starts from gravitational, hydraulic and electrical energy sources. The injured worker was training a co-worker on procedures when the injury occurred.
The company ended up cited for machine safety violations following injuries at its facility in Wapokaneta in April 2015 and at its Ravenna facility in March 2015. Those violations remain under contest.
Injuries were also reported at the Conneaut facility in September 2013 and the Ravenna Plant in August 2013. The company settled those violations with OSHA.