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Severe Injuries to Cost Company $185K

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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A coatings company outside New York City is facing $185,400 in federal fines after one worker suffered a partial amputation and another a crushed hand, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced.

Precision Custom Coatings LLC, of Totowa, NJ, was cited for one willful, one repeat and 12 serious safety violations. Local police referred OSHA to the company in September 2013 after an employee's hand was crushed while he moved materials through a roller machine.

Precision Custom Coatings
Photos: Precision Custom Coatings

Two workers at Precision Custom Coatings suffered severe hand injuries, prompting $185,400 in penalties. The company makes coatings adhesives and nonwoven fabrics and uses a variety of coatings processes.

During the investigation, OSHA was contacted about another incident where an employee suffered partial amputation of his hand after performing machine maintenance.

This is OSHA's seventh case against PCC since 2005, according to agency records. The company did not respond Wednesday (April 9) to a request for comment.

Controlling Hazards

Precision Custom Coatings uses a variety of coating techniques and creates coatings adhesives and nonwoven fabrics.

"With the proper machine guarding in place, this company could have prevented these needless, life-altering injuries," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office.

"Employers are responsible for eliminating or controlling hazards when the operation of a machine or accidental contact could injure the operator or others. This employer's failure to do so created catastrophic consequences," Levy said.

The Violations

The willful violation, which is OSHA's highest level infraction, accuses the company of failing to use danger tags and proper guards on machinery to warn and protect workers from burn hazards. That citation carries a $70,000 fine.

PCC

OSHA has cited PCC repeatedly for machine guarding violations.

The repeat violation, with a $38,500 proposed penalty, alleges lack of machine guarding to protect workers from ingoing nip points and rotating parts.

According to OSHA, Precision Custom Coatings was cited for the same violation in December 2011. That violation was also classified as repeat. A repeat violation occurs when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within the last five years.

The 12 serious violations, totaling $76,900 in proposed penalties, were related to:

  • Fall hazards from aerial platforms and incomplete guard rail systems;
  • Compressed gas cylinders stored outside the proper area;
  • Missing danger tags and machine guarding;
  • Lack of inspections, training, lockout/tagout devices and procedures for controlling hazardous energy;
  • Lack of training for employees operating powered industrial trucks;
  • Powered industrial trucks left unattended with elevated forks;
  • Exposure to struck-by hazards;
  • Missing safety guards for portable abrasive grinders;
  • Lack of labels on electrical panel breakers;
  • Storing cardboard boxes near electrical panels; and
  • Missing ground pin for a portable drill.

Serious violations are those that carry probability that death or serious injury from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.

OSHA History

In the 2011 case, PCC paid a fine of $6,930 for the repeat violation after the original $13,860 fine was reduced through an informal settlement.

In 2010, OSHA records show, the agency cited PCC for one other-than-serious and two serious violations. Fines totaling $2,600 were reduced to $1,560 after an informal settlement.

In 2007, OSHA issued one citation and fine for a serious violation. In 2006, the company received four serious citations (later reduced to three) and was fined.

OSHA machine violations

OSHA says the company failed to control hazards, creating "catastrophic consequences."

In October 2005, OSHA citated the company twice: once with nine violations, including seven serious; and once with 10 violations, nine of them serious. In both cases, the company paid reduced fines, according to OSHA.

OSHA also inspected PCC on Feb. 28 of this year, records show. No citations have been issued, but the case remains open.

Prevention Program Urged

Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York, said, "A first step toward preventing such hazards is for an employer to develop and implement an illness and injury prevention program where management and workers proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions."

Established in 1987, PCC's corporate heaquarters is its 210,000-square-foot production facility in Totowa. It also produces thought three factories in Asia, supported by 38 distribution and sales offices worldwide.

Precision Custom Coatings has 15 business days from receiving the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Coatings manufacturers; Health and safety; OSHA; OSHA; Personal protective equipment; Shop-applied coatings

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