The Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to fine an Alabama plastics company nearly $200,000 after a worker was killed when she was pulled into a recycling machine last year, calling it a “preventable tragedy.”
OSHA said Feb. 20 it is proposing fines totaling $195,144 against ABC Polymer Industries LLC in Helena, Ala., for the Aug. 16 fatality. The most serious citation is for what the agency termed a “willful” violation for failing for provide machine guarding to protect employees.
“This company's failure to install machine guarding equipment has resulted in a preventable tragedy,” said Ramona Morris, director of OSHA's Birmingham area office, in a statement.
OSHA said the company has 15 days to respond to the complaint. ABC Polymers did not respond to a call or email for comment.
The agency is alleging 16 separate violations, with the largest proposed fine of $129,336 for the willful violation of the machine guarding rule, which it said is designed to protect employees from “caught-in or amputation hazards.”
The penalties include fines of $65,445 for eight serious violations, including several for violating lockout/tagout standards and not having safety procedures for shut downs, failing to evaluate powered industrial trucks every three years and failing to install a rail system on both sides of an open platform.
The employee, Eva Saenz, was working next to rollers and apparently bent over to cut a piece of plastic when she got pulled up into the rollers and equipment, according to the Shelby County Coroner's office. Saenz, who was 45, was pronounced dead at the scene, the coroner said.
Her husband, Crescensio Pablo, filed a lawsuit in Alabama courts against ABC Polymer last year alleging that the work environment was “unreasonably dangerous,” according to local media reports.
ABC Polymer makes polypropylene bulk storage bags and flexible containers for industrial markets including chemicals and building materials, and extruded PP products, including microsynthetic and macrosynthetic concrete fibers.