Amputations Lead to Fines for Manufacturer

Thursday, December 15, 2016 @ 03:12 PM gHale

For the second time in less than two months, an employee at one of world’s leading commercial laundry equipment manufacturers suffered an amputation because a machine lacked adequate safety guarding.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators issued penalties of $124,709 to Alliance Laundry Systems after its investigation of a July 20 injury. They identified the incident as one willful safety violation.

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Inspectors found the Ripon, WI-based company returned a hydraulic press to operation without adding safety guarding after a 65-year-old employee’s right middle finger tip ended up amputated as he lowered a press used to square parts for washing machines and dryers.

“Despite earlier machine related injuries, Alliance Laundry Systems allowed workers to operate a machine without installing safety guards. We find these failures troubling,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director in Appleton. “Ignoring guarding methods required by OSHA creates a culture where employees’ well-being is deemed unimportant, and workers are left to suffer the consequences.”

In a previous investigation, OSHA learned that a grommet cutting machine severed a 26-year-old employee’s right index finger on June 3. In that case, the agency issued four serious violations to Alliance in July. The incidents in the summer of 2016 continue a recent history of preventable worker injuries at the company. On Aug. 12, 2015, a 51-year-old employee’s right hand ended up crushed when he came in contact with operating parts of a folding machine. The injury resulted in the amputation of his right middle finger.

Headquartered in Ripon, Alliance Laundry Systems is a global manufacturer of commercial laundry equipment. Its products are sold under the Speed Queen, UniMac, Primus, Huebsch and Ipso brands to laundromats, multi-housing laundries and on-premise laundries. Founded in 1908, the company has more than 2,500 employees working in its global manufacturing facilities in Ripon; Pribor, Czech Republic, and Guangzhou, China.

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