CARLSTADT, N.J. - Sama Plastics Corp.'s computerized saw did not have barriers in place to keep operators out of a ``crusher-zone'' area, resulting in the accidental death of a worker at its Carlstadt plant, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA has fined Sama $3,000 and recommended the installation of safety equipment on the machine, according to Richard Palmieri, OSHA compliance officer in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.
But Sama President Martin Wolfberg said his firm will contest the finding. The saw already is safe if used properly, he said.
``The machine will not operate unless the guard comes down and completely covers the blade,'' he said in a recent telephone interview.
Jose Serrano-Rivera was killed April 11 while operating the computerized saw that cuts acrylic sheet. His head apparently was crushed between the gantry push bar that holds the sheet and the saw housing, Palmieri said.
``When you lose a life and lose an employee, that takes a toll on people,'' Wolfberg said. ``It's affected all of us.''
He said Serrano had been operating the saw since 1987 and was ``adequately trained,'' but that he had gone behind the machine for unknown reasons.
``This machine loads from the front, is operated from the front and unloads from the front,'' Wolfberg said. ``There was no reason for [Serrano] to be behind the machine.''
Although OSHA issued Sama a citation for the failure, Palmieri said the fine was not ``excessive,'' because of Sama's background of running ``a good shop,'' and its prompt attention to the accident.
Sama submitted plans to OSHA for a high-tech combination of a 5-foot barrier fence and six or eight electric eyes that automatically shut off the equipment if anyone enters the danger area, Palmieri said. The electric eyes produce a double beam that operators ``can't jump over or duck under,'' he said.
But Wolfberg said the company ``is not rushing out'' to install new equipment.
``We're not accepting the fine at this point,'' he said. ``We don't feel we've done anything wrong. Our machinery was in compliance.''
The company forms acrylic sheet into displays for restaurants and retail establishments.