The president and owner of Quality Blow Molding Inc. disagrees with how an industrial accident at his Elyria, Ohio, plant has been portrayed, and said he will defend his company against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Ron Matcham said in an Aug. 19 phone interview that the new employee injured on the first day of the job was told how to operate the blow molding machine.
“He was shown what to do,” Matcham said.
According to OSHA, a 21-year-old worker suffered amputations to four fingers on his right hand as a result of a March 2 incident. OSHA said the company did not properly train the employee on safety and it did not report the accident.
OSHA fined the company $171,270.
According to Matcham, the accident happened when the worker tried to free up a jam during the molding cycle, and his gloved hand was covered with the molten plastic.
One of the workers' fingers was amputated three days later by health care workers who deemed that amputation was the best way to treat the injured fingers. A week after the first amputation, three other fingers were amputated.
Matcham stressed the amputations were not caused by any chopping action from machine parts at the plant site in Elyria. The worker also suffered severe burns to other areas of his hand.
An OSHA spokesman said the fine was stiffer than normal because OSHA cited the company for similar violations in 2014 and 2010 at the same facility.
In the most recent incident, Quality Blow Molding was cited for two willful, two repeated and one other-than-serious violations. The company also was placed in OSHA's severe violator enforcement program, in which OSHA concentrates resources on inspecting employers “who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations.”
The business molds bottles, golf tees and other plastic items.
Matcham said there had been problems with the machine guard on the machine where the accident occurred, and that during an earlier visit an OSHA representative recommended the machine operator use a stick to replace the machine guard when the guard was removed for maintenance.
Matcham said he disagreed with the proposed solution and offered a less hazardous remedy.
“We understand no injury is good, but we are a clean and safe workplace,” Matcham said. The company has been blow molding for more than 20 years and only had this one accident of this nature in that time, he added.
Matcham said his company has had issues with OSHA in the past but Quality Blow Molding does care about its workers.
“I had a vacation scheduled but I canceled it because I care,” Matcham said.
OSHA found the company failed to implement procedures to prevent machines from starting up during service and maintenance, and it did not train workers on safety procedures or install machine guards on horizontal lathes. These types of violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA.
“A preventable and unforgivable injury has changed this young man's life,” said Kimberly Nelson, OSHA's director for the Toledo area, in an Aug. 13 news release. “For the second time in two years, Quality Blow Molding intentionally and willfully disregarded OSHA standards and requirements for machine safety.”
Quality Blow Molding has 15 business days to respond to the citations, which it received on Aug. 12.