New Philadelphia, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed fining Lauren Manufacturing $274,934 after an investigation of a June incident where an employee had a finger severed.
It was the second serious accident suffered by an employee in less than 18 months, resulting in OSHA placing New Philadelphia-based Lauren Manufacturing in its Severe Violators Enforcement Program.
The agency said inspectors identified four repeated, six serious and three other-than-serious safety violations of machine safety procedures after a pneumatic bench cutter severed a 27-year-old employee's finger as she cut rubber material on June 22, according to an OSHA news release. Inspectors found the employer did not properly adjust the machine's light curtains, which serve as safeguards, to prevent the worker's hand from coming in contact with the machine's operating parts.
In the release, OSHA said it also found that Lauren:
• Allowed temporary workers to operate machinery without training on proper lockout/tagout procedures.
• Failed to develop and implement adequate lockout/tagout procedures and periodically inspect such procedures.
• Did not provide protective footwear or adequate personal protective equipment to protect employees from burns.
• Exposed workers to live electrical contacts.
"Companies need to evaluate safety procedures to protect employees from injuries on the job," Larry Johnson, the OSHA area director for Columbus, Ohio, said in a news release. "Particularly, they need to take a hard look at machinery operations and how workers are trained on safety."
OSHA previously issued four citations against Lauren Manufacturing in January 2015 for lack of machine safety procedures after a worker's arm was crushed in a hydraulic mold press.
OSHA said Lauren has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Chuck Laney, vice president of safety and continuous improvement for parent firm Lauren International, said in a statement that "any incidence of employee injury is deeply personal for each member of our organization. Employee safety is our highest obligation and a core value for our company."
He said that Lauren Manufacturing has cooperated with OSHA officials throughout the process and the firm has received communication from the agency about the proposed citations and penalties for the June 22 incident. The official added that Lauren is reviewing the information and has scheduled an informal conference for the first week of January in Columbus, one of the options OSHA gives companies that receive proposed citations.
"We look forward to our discussions with OSHA regarding the many steps we have taken to provide a safe environment for our employees and will use this process to continue to improve our operations," Laney said in the statement. "Over the past eight months, our organization has made strides in our overall safety program, and we are confident that our employees are more engaged in improving our safety culture in all of our facilities."
He added that Lauren has set aggressive goals of zero recordable and lost time accidents for 2017.
The firm makes molded and extruded products using rubber, silicone, thermoplastics and other specialty polymers. It is a subsidiary of Cambridge, Ohio-based Lauren International.