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

file0001710508204 morguefile ronnieb.jpgAn 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