When an organization is fined for a failure to comply with OSHA machine guarding and other standards, it’s an expense that could’ve been avoided. When those violations lead to injury, it’s breaking news, not to mention heart-breaking!
The outcomes of these bad practices should be obvious, but let’s tally them up. We’ll use a recent example to do so.
Manufacturer’s Violations and Fines
In Ohio, an automotive steel manufacturer was recently cited for their failure to install adequate machine guarding and to implement lockout/tagout measures. Federal inspectors also found the organization had not trained its workers on safety procedures. All of these errors exposed workers to amputation risk. 58% of all workplace amputations in the U.S. happen because of a lack of protection around machine hazards.
This manufacturer now faces more than $222,000 in penalties this year.
In 2017, a proposed $280,000 fine was placed against the same organization after a 64-year-old worker was struck by a piece of equipment resulting in a broken pelvis. Upon getting involved with this emergency situation, inspectors uncovered other violations at that time.
In 2013, an OSHA press release about this manufacturer shared 24 violations carrying fines of $1,138,500.
So far, we’ve only mentioned the financial implications associated directly with OSHA violations. With workplace injury, there are also medical costs and lawsuits. Although it can vary with each situation, according to a source on personal injury law, the total lifetime cost to a victim of traumatic amputation is around $509,272. Legal settlements can total a whole lot more.
These implications still don’t include the impact on a company’s reputation or the employee experience amidst workplace injuries and numerous citations.
OSHA Machine Guarding Standards
Many of this organization’s violations reference a lack of machine guarding. To remain OSHA-compliant, for example, to uphold OSHA Standard No. 1910.212, an organization needs to:
- Provide “one or more methods of machine guarding to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by machine operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks.”
- Put in place “effective machine guarding to protect employees from the ingoing nip points of the numerous belt and pulley systems.”
We aren’t saying these safety practices are easy as they do involve time and resources. However, machine guarding products are more accessible than ever along with safety specialists ready to help. Doing the bullet points above could have prevented a lot of problems for the Ohio manufacturer.
Our RapidGuard II product helps manufacturers throughout the nation comply with OSHA’s machine guarding standards. It is a simpler, more compact design meaning it is easier to install and conserves space.
There’s no excuse to ignore these federal standards. At this point, we can assume it cost the manufacturer millions with penalties still mounting. The organization has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program which means the employer is under critical observation for a demonstrated indifference to OSH Act obligations. This program could also result in enhanced settlement provisions and federal court enforcement.
We share this one organization’s experience as a cautionary tale. For many other organizations, a single incident could be its undoing.
To avoid this path, consider the variety of protective products like our machine guard panels and guard rails. Many of them can be customized to your space and needs. An upfront investment in compliant equipment and training is well worth it to avoid the higher costs – and pain – of a vicious cycle of employee harm, citations, and penalties.