Crushed Arms Brings Big Safety Fines

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 @ 02:03 PM gHale

Following an incident where a machine operator’s arms ended up crushed, Houston-based Custom Rubber Products LLC is facing $560,000 in fines for eight willful, egregious violations, according to officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The company created a dangerous work environment by failing to guard machines, which exposed workers to life-threatening hazards, OSHA said. Custom Rubber Products, owned by Paris-based Flexitallic Group, employs about 280 workers and manufactures products for the oil and gas industry.

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“In an instant, moving machine parts can crush workers or amputate fingers or limbs,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Safeguards are essential to protect workers from these preventable injuries. Employers must ensure that guards are functioning on machines that can cause these injuries, and there is no excuse for failing to provide them.”

OSHA’s Houston North Area Office began the September 2013 inspection in response to a complaint that a worker suffered severe injuries while operating an unguarded machine. During the inspection, OSHA became aware of two other incidents that occurred previously at the facility; both involved severe injuries to employees while operating similar machinery.

The eight willful violations, with a penalty of $560,000, were for failing to provide one or more methods of machine guarding to protect the operator and other workers in the machine area from hazards created by rotating parts while operating seven manual lathes and other equipment. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

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