The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 57 citations for safety violations to Sunfield Inc., an Ohio auto parts’ manufacturer. The agency has also proposed the company pay more than $3.42 million in total fines for its failure to disconnect machinery from a power supply and prevent sudden movement before maintenance and service, and to train workers in how to operate machine presses safely and to service and maintain them.
The fines assessed are one of the largest OSHA penalties ever filed against a company in the automotive parts industry.
Federal investigators inspected Sunfield’s Hebron plant after two workers suffered severe injuries in separate incidents in January and February 2016. The facility has an extensive history of federal safety violations dating back 20 years. The company, which investigators found to have a high rate of employee turnover, supplies parts for several major Japanese and domestic automakers.
OSHA issued citations for 46 egregious willful, 2 willful, 1 repeated and 8 serious safety violations with penalties totaling $3,426,900 to Sunfield. The agency also placed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failure to address these safety hazards. Most of the violations involve lack of machine safety procedures which expose workers to amputation, lacerations and other injuries.
OSHA investigation found:
•On January 6, 2016, a 22 year old male temporary worker employed by the staffing agency, Employers Overload, suffered multiple lacerations and a fractured right elbow, while removing scrap from a blanking press after operating machine parts caught his arm because safety light curtains were not operating correctly. OSHA’s investigation found a supervisor had identified the safety issue two hours prior to the injury, and failed to place the equipment out of service. The injured worker had been on the job just six months.
•On February 18, 2016, a full time 58 year old Sunfield employee had to undergo surgical amputation of his right arm above the elbow after his arm was crushed as he removed scrap on a robotic press line. Investigators again found that the machine’s danger zone did not have adequate safe guards to prevent employees from coming in contact with operating machine parts. He had been on the job for just a year.
Prior to these inspections, Sunfield had an extensive history of OSHA violations. Since 1997, 16 of 20 inspections conducted found multiple violations.
In total, the agency has issued 118 citations that have addressed numerous machine hazards similar to those cited today and resulted in 90 serious, eight willful and five repeated violations to the company, which has repeatedly assured OSHA that it would address the unsafe conditions.
OSHA found that the company did not take the necessary steps to protect its workers from being injured by moving machine parts. It did not prevent machines from unintentionally starting when workers were performing service and maintenance such as clearing scrap, and also failed to provide adequate safety mechanisms such as guards, locking devices and other procedures to prevent contact with those moving parts. These types of violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA and often result in death or permanent disability.
The agency also found multiple electrical safety violations including lack of personal protective equipment, workers exposed to “live” electrical parts, and use of damaged equipment.
Published in the September 2016 Edition of American Recycler News
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