Sep 11, 2015

OSHA Issues $141K in Penalties to Georgia Plastics Company After Two Employees Suffer Finger Amputations Within Two Weeks

An Oakwood, Georgia plastics company was recently issued over $141,000
in proposed fines for 22 alleged health and safety violations. According
to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”)
press release, the business was investigated after two workers suffered disabling amputation
injuries within two weeks of each other earlier this year. Both employees
apparently lost two fingers while operating a shearing machine used to
cut plastic.

Following the OSHA investigation, the plastics company was cited for two
repeat, 18 serious, and two other-than-serious worker safety risks. In
general, a repeat health and safety violation is one that an employer
received a citation for more than once within a five-year period. A serious
violation occurs when a safety hazard is likely to result in a worker’s
severe physical harm, serious illness, or death. Other-than-serious violations
are typically those that may cause a workplace accident but are unlikely
to be fatal or cause an employee to sustain a serious injury.

The plastics company received a repeat violation for purportedly exposing
workers to high temperatures without providing them with appropriate protective
gear and storing oxygen with flammable substances. The company was cited
for similar violations at a New Jersey plant less than one year ago. The
serious violations apparently included exposing employees to fall hazards,
failing to ensure proper machine guards were in place, failing to provide
workers with hearing protections when exposed to loud noises, failing
to properly lock-out machines during maintenance, and more.

The plastics manufacturer currently employs about 1,100 workers in five
states, including Georgia. Over the course of the past decade, the business
received about 35 citations for health and safety violations following
a total of 14 OSHA inspections. Normally, an employer that receives an
OSHA proposed penalty has 15 business days in which to contest the Agency’s findings.

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Census of Fatal
Occupational Injuries, 117 Georgia employees were killed at work in 2013.
Across the nation, more than 4,500 individuals tragically lost their lives
at work during the same year. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of
1970 was created to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents and fatalities
that occur in Georgia across the U.S. The Act requires employers operating
in the U.S. to provide employees with a workplace environment that is
reasonably free from known health and safety hazards or face financial
and other penalties.

Navigating the Georgia workers’ compensation system on your own can
be tough. If you or someone you love has suffered a
catastrophic injury in an Atlanta workplace accident, you are advised to discuss your rights
with a dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you are
able. To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Fulton
County workers’ compensation attorney, call the Law Offices of Nathaniel
F. Hansford at (770) 922-3660 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

2 workers suffer amputations in separate incidents, less than 2 weeks apart,
due to Oakwood, Georgia, plastic manufacturer’s safety failures
OSHA Regional News Release dated August 31, 2015

Photo credit: ronnieb, MorgueFile