By Adam R. Young, James L. Curtis, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: A manufacturer was issued a “willful citation” for failure to correct a machine guarding deficiency identified in a previous audit.

After the amputation, OSHA conducted an injury investigation into the Pennsylvania company’s industrial facility. OSHA uncovered that the Company had previously identified a machine guarding deficiency, but kept the machine operational and did not repair the deficiency prior to the amputation incident.

According to its press releases, OSHA determined that the “injured worker’s left hand and arm were caught and pulled into the rotating drums of the machine while loading brick pieces into it. OSHA found the company failed to provide guarding to prevent employees from having any part of their body in the danger zone during operation.” Additionally, OSHA found, the hazard was identified during previous periodic inspections of the machine by the employer, but repairs were never made.

The company was cited for 11 safety violations – including one willful and eight serious – following an investigation. OSHA proposed $108,769 in penalties for the violations.

As a reminder to employers, this case provides three lessons to employers —

  1. Take prompt action to address safety and health issues identified during internal audits and inspections.
  2. Consider conducting safety audits and inspections under attorney client privilege to protect audits from production to OSHA in a subsequent inspection.
  3. OSHA issued an accusatory and damaging press release, Be ready to respond to OSHA’s press releases with your own, to strategically rebut unfounded allegations. Please see our article on responding to OSHA press releases.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the author, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.