OSHA finds machine safety hazards, silica overexposure at Ohio steel plant

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GROVEPORT, Ohio -- Amsted Rail Company Inc., a manufacturer of cast steel freight components, faces $610,034 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration after agency investigators found workers at its Groveport plant exposed to machine hazards and silica.

OSHA found one worker was hospitalized after suffering severe injuries when he was caught in a machine, and at least four workers were exposed to excessive levels of silica, which can cause serious health issues.

'Companies must ensure their workers are trained in proper machine safety procedures and provided the necessary personal protective equipment to prevent injuries and illness on the job,' said Dorothy Dougherty, deputy assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. 'Continuous monitoring of facilities and procedures are important components of an effective safety and health program.'

On Jan. 3, 2017, a 60-year-old maintenance worker's leg was crushed after he was caught in a core baker machine while conducting maintenance. OSHA's investigation found multiple instances of machine safety violations including failing to lock out machinery to prevent movement during servicing.

A second inspection was opened on Feb. 22, 2017, after OSHA inspectors found workers exposed to silica at amounts over the permissible exposure limit. Investigators documented four incidents of silica overexposure in the facility.

In total, the agency found six repeat, 19 serious and five other-than-serious safety and health violations during the two inspections.

OSHA found Amsted Rail failed to implement engineering controls to lower exposure to silica, affix locking devices to machine operating parts during maintenance, adequately guard machinery, implement a respiratory protection program, evaluate permit-required confined spaces, guard floor openings and shafts to prevent falls and provide adequate personal protective equipment.

Amsted Rail has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its safety and health citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, 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 Columbus Area Office at 614-469-5582.

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.

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