The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing fines of $155,208 against flexible plastic packaging manufacturer Liqui-Box Corp. for failing to train employees after a worker at its Ashland, Ohio, factory had part of his thumb amputated in an accident.
OSHA said in a March 12 statement that it was fining Richmond, Va.-based Liqui-Box for "serious and repeated violations" of machine safety procedures and was placing the company in its severe violator enforcement program.
It's the second amputation complaint OSHA has brought against the Ashland factory in two years.
“Liqui-Box takes pride in being a world-class employer with a highly motivated workforce, many of whom have spent their entire careers with our company," the company said in a written response. "We are committed to providing a safe working environment that includes comprehensive mandatory training programs as well as proper tools and resources for our employees to succeed in their careers with our company. We value our employees' dedication and commitment to the success of our organization and continue to invest in our employees' safety and capabilities.
"Liqui-Box is working with OSHA in response to this unfortunate event and we will continue to provide and enhance the necessary measures to ensure our employees are safe when working in our manufacturing facilities in Ashland and around the globe.”
In this latest incident, the agency said the employee was clearing a jam on a bag sealing machine when he suffered the amputation.
OSHA said the company "was cited for failing to adequately train employees on lockout/tagout procedures, and failing to complete required annual audits of the company's safety processes."
"Hundreds of workers are injured every year in manufacturing facilities because employers fail to follow machine safety procedures," said Kim Nelson, area director for OSHA's Toledo, Ohio, office. "This company exposed an employee to serious injury by failing to take the necessary and well-known safety precautions."
An OSHA spokeswoman said the company was placed in the severe violator program because the agency found two repeat violations that "are high gravity serious in a high-emphasis hazard [amputations]."
The agency previously issued citations involving an amputation at the Ashland factory in 2016. According to an August 2016 press statement from OSHA, the agency cited the Liqui-Box facility for several violations of machine safety standards after a maintenance employee suffered a partial amputation of a thumb while operating a blow molding press.
"With a guard door open, the employee reached for a part when the machine's mold closed on the employee's left hand," OSHA said at the time. "The crushing injuries led to the amputation of the end of the employee's thumb."
The agency said in 2016 that the company failed to report a hospitalization injury to OSHA within 24 hours, as required, did not adequately guard machine operating parts and failed to implement and train workers in lockout/tagout procedures.
The OSHA spokeswoman said because the same lockout/tagout and training issues were cited in the 2016 and 2018 inspections, the company was placed in the severe violators program.
In that 2016 incident, OSHA had proposed $42,413 in fines. The case was settled in December 2016 with final penalties of $25,447.
OSHA said the company has 15 days to contest the new complaint.