New Worker Hurt; Firm Faces Fines

Friday, December 5, 2014 @ 05:12 PM gHale

Wagner’s LLC is facing $241,680 in fines for three willful, one repeat and four serious violations for exposing workers to dangerous machine parts at the wild bird food manufacturer in Milford, IL.

The employee cleared birdseed from an industrial mixing tank at the Milford facility May 31 and had his left hand and arm severely injured after they ended up caught in a moving piece of machinery. The 25-year-old worker had been on the job for two months.

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After an inspection on June 4, following the incident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) placed Wagner’s in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Founded in 1894, Wagner’s LLC’s headquarters is in Jericho, NY. The company employs 120 workers nationwide with 45 in Milford. The company also operates facilities in North Dakota and Colorado.

“Failure to protect employees from dangerous machinery often leads to catastrophic injury or death. While this worker will see his 26th birthday, he will forever carry the memory and scars from this injury,” said Thomas Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria. “OSHA’s investigation found a breakdown in management, which led to this employee’s injury. That’s unacceptable. Workers should never be at risk because safety procedures slow production.”

The investigation found Wagner’s failed to lockout energy sources to protect the worker from contact with rotating machine parts and the machine turning on while he cleaned it. The company also failed to conduct periodic inspections of written protocols related to locking out machines and did not train workers on these procedures. These violations at manufacturing plants are the most frequently cited by OSHA and put workers at risk for amputation and other injuries. Wagner’s received three willful violations related to these hazards.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

OSHA also found the company failed to provide machine guarding on another piece of equipment not involved in the incident. Wagner’s previously received a citation for this violation at its facility in Flagler, Colorado, in 2011. In addition, the company received four serious safety violations because it did not provide eye protection; used damaged electrical cords; failed to perform fire extinguisher education; and had unmarked exits. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

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