Construction, Enforcement and Inspection, Injuries and Illness

Cleaning Products Maker Facing $194K Fine for Amputation

Green Bay, Wisconsin, household cleaning products manufacturer Tufco LP faces $194,518 in proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties after an employee’s fingertip was amputated in an August 2023 accident, the agency announced February 9. OSHA cited the employer with one repeat, four serious, and two other-than-serious violations.

Investigators found that an employee’s fingertip was severed while clearing a pump’s outfeed on August 18, 2023. The employee was part of an overnight crew that was running and maintaining melt tanks used to create scented laundry beads. Safety inspectors learned that the product lines weren’t locked out or shut down before cleaning and maintenance, exposing the worker to the pump’s point of operation.

OSHA inspectors determined the employer violated federal regulations for the control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) during service and maintenance tasks and failed to report the amputation injury, as required.

Inspectors also found that Tufco LP lacked written lockout/tagout procedures that would have prevented employees from contact with moving machine parts and failed to retrain employees on such procedures when they were reassigned to a new production area. OSHA also noted a lack of machine guarding and that the plant failed to develop and implement a respiratory protection program. The agency previously cited the company for exposing workers to similar machine hazards in 2019 and 2021. 

Last fall, OSHA reported that the agency’s lockout/tagout standard was its sixth most cited standard and machine guarding was the 10th most-cited standard. The agency cited 2,554 violations of the lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) in fiscal year (FY) 2023, and it cited 1,644 violations of the machine guarding standard (§1910.212) in FY 2023. The agency also has a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for amputations in manufacturing addressing compliance with the lockout/tagout and machine guarding standards and several others.

“Tufco LP expanded their capabilities with new products and machines but failed to assess and mitigate potential hazards prior to allowing employees to run the new product lines,” Robert Bonack, OSHA’s Appleton, Wisconsin, area office director, said in a statement.

Florida crane service cited in electrocution

Melbourne, Florida, crane service provider Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service Inc. faces $26,585 in OSHA penalties after the electrocution of a 34-year-old crane operator at a Palm Bay worksite, the agency announced February 8.

The employer sent an uncertified crane operator alone to a residential construction project to lift and place metal frame roof trusses at a residential construction project. After positioning the crane on an unpaved driveway and extending the boom to complete the first lift, the operator was electrocuted when the steel wire rope and chain rigging, suspended from the crane boom, made contact with two 13,200-volt power lines next to the residential property. 

The agency cited Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service with three serious violations for using an uncertified crane operator and operating a hydraulic crane within 20 feet of overhead power lines. The employer also failed to ensure the crane was positioned on a stable foundation by using adequate cribbing, or materials meant to support the outriggers of the crane at a greater height. 

OSHA also cited the employer with two other-than-serious violations for not labeling and marking rigging equipment and failing to ensure warning labels on the hydraulic crane were legible. 

“Fatal incidents in construction often occur because of the employer’s failure to follow basic safety protocols and industry-standard regulations,” Erin Sanchez, OSHA’s Orlando, Florida, area office director, said in a statement. “In this case, Capt’n Hook’s Crane Service cut corners and made the conscious choice to send an uncertified crane operator to a job site. That decision led to this worker losing their life.”

Electrocution is one of the construction industry’s “fatal four” work hazards, along with fall, caught-in/-between, and struck-by hazards.

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