Ohio vinyl tile maker Nox US LLC faces $1.2 million in penalties after an employee was severely injured in a machine, the seventh time since 2017 that a worker has been hurt by the company's failure to lock out equipment, federal regulators said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in an Oct. 27 news release the worker first had their finger pulled into a rotating spindle on a plastic winding machine, followed by their body being pulled around the spindle.
"The worker, who had been on the job just six weeks, suffered multiple severe injuries that required surgery," OSHA said.
The agency said the April 28 incident with the new employee marks the seventh injury in five years at the plant related to the company's failure to follow machine safety rules. An OSHA official in the agency's statement accused the company of continuing to "put profit before safety."
A detailed complaint released by OSHA said that some violations it found during May inspections were repeats from citations from previous years, including from earlier settlement orders the agency had reached with the company.
OSHA also said there have been at least 13 serious incidents at the plant caused by exposure to burn and amputation hazards since 2017. The agency put the Fostoria plant in its severe violators program in 2017.
Nox US, which is part of Seoul, South Korea-based Nox Corp., makes luxury vinyl tile. It did not respond to a request for comment. The Fostoria plant opened in 2015 and employs about 200.
"Nox US LLC's continued failure to correct previously identified hazards has led to another worker suffering severe and potentially life-altering injuries," said Bill Donovan, OSHA regional administrator in Chicago. "When an employer fails to ensure dangerous machines are guarded or de-energized properly, they show an indifference to worker safety, and the risk of serious injuries multiplies."
The agency's complaint listed eight willful violations, one repeat violation and six serious violations, among other charges including lacking personal protective equipment and failing to train workers on safety hazards and precautions.
It accused Nox of "frequently" exposing working to caught-in and amputation hazards and failing to require machine lockout/tagout procedures or train workers on hazards.
OSHA also said the company operated unguarded rollers and other equipment, and exposed workers to hazards from oil residue on floors.
In its detailed complaint, OSHA referred several times to new violations of standards cited in previous final orders of settlements with the company in January 2019 and January 2022.
In January 2020, OSHA proposed fines of $317,000 against the company after a worker lost part of an arm and several fingers in a lamination machine. A database on OSHA's website said that case remains open but suggested the penalty amount may have dropped to $225,000.
"Nox US LLC continues to put profit before safety, and the company's efforts when it comes to worker safety are unacceptable," said Todd Jensen, OSHA area office director in Toledo, Ohio. "We will use all means necessary to hold this company accountable and to protect workers' rights to a safe and healthy workplace."
The company has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to formally respond, OSHA said.