Materials firm Heritage Plastics Inc. has been fined almost $160,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor for safety conditions at Heritage's plant in Picayune, Miss.
In an April 10 news release, labor officials said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Picayune-based Heritage for exposing employees to amputations at the plant. Heritage faces $159,118 in penalties, including a willful violation that carries the maximum penalty allowed, according to the release.
In November, a Heritage employee lost four fingers when the mixing machine from which the employee was removing material unexpectedly started, the release said. OSHA inspectors determined that Heritage failed to require the use of a lockout device and also failed to train employees on procedures to control the release of hazardous energy.
OSHA also cited Heritage for failing to install machine guarding. The inspection is part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Amputations.
"Proper safety procedures, including the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented this employee's serious injury," OSHA Jackson Area Office Director Courtney Bohannon said in the release.
Heritage responded with an April 10 statement saying that the firm intends to follow OSHA's administrative review process to seek relief from the initial Notice of Violation findings.
"Heritage Plastics followed proper procedure after a serious employee injury in November 2018 at our Picayune facility," Becky Winchester, the company's human resources manager, said in the release. "The company acted promptly to notify and cooperate with [OSHA] for a review of the incident.
"We believe in the importance of proper safety training, process and procedures," she added. "Heritage Plastics is committed to best practices and providing a safe working environment for our employees."
Heritage was founded in 1982 and makes calcium carbonate concentrates for a variety of applications including blow molding, injection molding, blown film and thermoforming. In addition to Picayune, the firm operates plants in Atlanta and in Sylacauga, Ala.