Pennsylvania blow molder Falcon Plastics Inc. is facing $161,000 in fines after two workers lost fingers in incidents stemming from what federal regulators said was the company's willful disregard of safety standards.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed the fines Feb. 12, after the workers lost fingers in separate but similar incidents at the company's Washington, Pa., plant.
The workers were injured April 25 and Aug. 3 while using vertical bandsaws to cut scrap plastics. The plastic pieces were too large to fit into a grinder, and management instructed employees to cut the pieces with the saw, said OSHA spokeswoman Kate Dugan.
"These two unfortunate incidents occurred because Falcon Plastics allowed its employees to work on unguarded machinery, without use of hand tools," said Robert Szymanski, area director of OSHA's Pittsburgh office, which conducted the investigation.
In addition, "management had never ensured that employees were trained in the proper use" of the tools, Dugan said.
The violations were labeled willful because "management did, in fact, do nothing to correct the situation," Dugan said. OSHA defines willful violations as those that show intentional disregard or indifference to safety standards.
Falcon officials could not be reached for comment.
OSHA began an investigation Aug. 17 in response to a complaint and saw that employees still were operating the saw without proper guarding, she said. OSHA proposed two willful violations with a $112,000 penalty, 15 serious violations with a $49,000 penalty and seven other violations.
The company has 15 days to contest the citations.
OSHA records indicate a worker was killed at the plant Jan. 10, 1995, when a mold slid off a forklift during installation and crushed him.
At the time, the company was known as Mac Plastics Inc. It went bankrupt and was sold in 1998 to local investors led by Angelo Falconi. Falconi previously had owned the company from 1958-1985.