Disabled detection-sensor device was ‘willful’: Worker dies

by on February 20, 2014 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

A worker dropped a metal bar and it fell into a wire-mesh manufacturing machine. He went to retrieve the bar. The machine was designed so a light curtain—a sensor that detects someone’s presence—would automatically shut off the machine. The light curtain was disabled.

Since that was the only machine guard, the worker was vulnerable to moving parts. A part that feeds wire into the machinery struck the worker. The worker, whose name was not released, was killed in the struck-by accident.

OSHA’s Jacksonville, FL-based office investigated and threw the book at Wire Mesh Sales LLC, Melbourne, FL. Total fines: $697,700 for eight per-instance willful violations and numerous lesser violations. The company was also placed in OSHA’s severe violators program, which requires closer supervision and even-heavier fines by OSHA if the company fails to improve its sales compliance.

The per-instance fines were for allegedly failing to guard and lock out machines properly on four large wire-mesh manufacturing, straightening, and/or testing machines. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a statement proper machine-guarding and lockout procedures would have prevented the fatality.

Take home: Once again, multiple violations vastly multiply risk: No guarding, no lock out, and a safety culture where a worker can retrieve a fallen object near a moving machine all added up to a tragedy. Redundancy doesn’t always prevent accidents, but it does reduce the chances of them.

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