MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio -- A teenage worker's life was altered forever when his employer allowed him to operate machinery illegally and the 14-year-old lost his hand in the process.
Shady Knob Pallet Co. of Middlefield received citations from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration on July 7. The citations followed an inspection that found the young man suffered the injury when he touched the operating parts of a wood planer while manufacturing pallets on March 31.
Shady Knob violated the law by allowing an employee under 18 to work on the machine. Inspectors found the wood planer was one of several machines that lacked required safety guards to protect workers.
'Workers under age 18 are prohibited from operating power-driven woodworking machinery, such as the wood planer used here,' said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. 'Without safety mechanisms, personal protective equipment and proper training, employees are at risk. Shady Knob Pallet Co. must know the laws and protect the safety and well-being of its workers.'
OSHA issued 17 serious safety violations to the company. Proposed fines total $43,200. In addition to missing safety mechanisms, inspectors found Shady Knob failed to:
- Train worksite staff to provide first aid.
- Establish an exposure control plan for employees exposed to blood during first aid.
- Teach employees about workplace chemical hazards.
- Provide, and train workers on, the use of personal protective equipment.
- Store flammable liquids correctly.
- Use self-closing valves on gasoline drums used to power equipment.
- Install electrical equipment properly.
The Wage and Hour Division is also investigating the company for probable violations of child labor laws.
Shady Knob Pallet Co. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Cleveland, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Cleveland Area Office at 216-447-4194.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.