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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited H&H Woodworking Inc., a Yonkers, N.Y., manufacturer of custom architectural woodwork, for 26 alleged willful and serious violations of safety and health standards after an employee sustained a partial hand amputation on an unguarded radial arm saw. The company faces a total of $130,800 in proposed fines.
"Our inspection found that the blades on this and other saws lacked the guarding designed to prevent just this type of accident," said Diana Cortez, OSHA's area director in Tarrytown. "In addition, we identified a range of mechanical, chemical and fire hazards that, if uncorrected, expose employees to the dangers of flash fires, eye injury, hazardous substances and an inability to exit the workplace swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency."
The unguarded saw blades resulted in OSHA issuing the company two willful citations with $84,000 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
The inspection also identified potential fire hazards including the accumulation of combustible wood dust; a failure to ground and bond segments of the plant's dust collection system; unbonded containers of flammable liquids; combustible residue accumulation on surfaces of spray booths; and no training in fire extinguisher use. Other hazards included a locked exit door; obstructed exit route; untrained forklift operators; no lockout-tagout program for energy sources; respirator deficiencies; no chemical hazard communication program; allowing workers to consume food in areas where hazardous chemicals are used; a lack of quick drenching facilities for workers exposed to corrosive liquids; and insufficient protective measures for employees working with methylene chloride. These conditions resulted in the issuance of 24 serious citations, with $46,800 in fines. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
"One means of preventing recurring hazards is for employers to establish effective comprehensive workplace safety and health programs that involve their workers in proactively evaluating, identifying and eliminating those hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.