OSHA Issues $115K in Fines After Atlanta Worker is Hurt by Improperly Locked Out Machine

file000640497966 morguefile username click.jpgA 56-year-old worker was recently injured by a piece of machinery used to assemble air filters at an Atlanta workplace. According to the nation’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), the employee endured severe cuts and a broken wrist after her arm was apparently struck by moving mechanical parts. A representative for OSHA stated the worker’s injuries occurred while she was cleaning a large machine that was not properly locked out for maintenance.

As a result of the employee’s harm, OSHA issued about $115,000 in proposed penalties to the worker’s employer. The air filter manufacturer received two repeat citations for the company’s purported failure to provide workers with safety guards designed to protect them from being hurt by moving machinery parts. Typically, a repeat violation is issued when an employer is cited for failing to comply with a similar safety regulation more than once within a five-year-period. The hurt worker’s employer also received one serious violation for failing to ensure that written cleaning and maintenance procedures established to protect workers from machinery hazards were followed by employees. A serious violation is one that creates a substantial likelihood a worker will suffer a severe injury or fatality that an employer had actual knowledge of or should have known about.

The Kentucky-based air filter manufacturing company currently employs about 100 individuals at its Atlanta facility. Last year, the Georgia facility was inspected by OSHA twice. As a result of those inspections, the company received both serious and repeat citations for purported safety guard violations. OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office Director, Bill Fulcher, stated the hazards present at the Atlanta manufacturing facility have the potential to cause workers to suffer a permanent disability or an untimely death. Due to the company’s repeat violations, OSHA has proposed that the air filter manufacturer be placed in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. This program was designed to address safety hazards at workplaces where an employer has demonstrated an indifference towards providing employees with the health and safety protections required under federal law.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was created in an effort to reduce the number of workplace injuries and deaths that occur across the nation. Under the law, employers operating in the U.S. have an obligation to provide employees with a working environment that is reasonably free from known health and safety hazards. When a serious workplace accident occurs, OSHA will normally investigate whether an employer complied with established safety standards.

In 2013, more than 4,400 workers were killed on the job across the United States. Of those, 70 Georgia employees died as a result of a fatal work injury. If you suffered a catastrophic injury or a loved one was killed at work in Atlanta, you should discuss your rights with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you are able. To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer today, call the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford at (770) 922-3660 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Worker suffers broken wrist and lacerations while performing machine maintenance work at Atlanta’s American Air Filter Co., OSHA Regional News Release dated April 22, 2015

Photo credit: click, MorgueFile

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