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Facial, Eye Injuries Draw $175K Fine

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

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A Massachusetts metal fabricator for the defense industry is facing dozens of federal citations and $175,500 in fines following a grinding accident that caused serious eye and facial injuries to an employee.

Spincraft fabricates metal for a variety of industries, including the marine defense sector.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Spincraft for 38 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards at its plant in North Billerica, MA. OSHA’s inspection followed an incident earlier this year, in which the grinding wheel of a portable grinder ruptured during operation and kicked back into the operator’s face.

Inspectors found that the grinder had not been guarded or set up properly and that steps had not been taken to ensure that it was operated at the proper speed.

‘Needless Injury’

“This is exactly the type of needless injury OSHA standards are designed to prevent,” said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director. “Portable hand tools are just as dangerous as large machinery if they are not properly maintained and used.”

The citations detail a variety of other hazards throughout the plant, including:

• Lack of fall protection;

• Obstructed exit access;

• Failure to inspect mechanisms, lines, chains, hooks, tanks and other systems as prescribed;

• Improper propane storage;

• Slip, trip and fire hazards from “poor housekeeping”;

• Failure to inspect cranes on a frequent and regular basis;

• Failure to inspect crane running ropes and test crane upper limit switches;

• Lack of hazard communication training and numerous electrical hazards; and

• Unguarded ladderway openings, floor holes, and open-sided floors and platforms.

OSHA cited a total of 32 serious violations carrying $173,000 in proposed penalties. A serious violation reflects “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Major Hazards, Sizable Penalties

“The sizable penalties proposed here reflect both the severity of the grinder hazards as well as the breadth and range of additional mechanical, electrical and other hazards found throughout the plant,” added Erskine.

“Left uncorrected, these hazards expose employees to the dangers of falls, electric shocks, crushing injuries, slipping and tripping hazards, and being unable to exit the workplace swiftly in the event of a fire or other emergency.”

The company was also cited for six other-than-serious violations and fined $2,500 for undocumented energy control procedures and additional machine guarding, crane, electrical and hazard communication issues.

About the Company

The company did not respond Tuesday (Sept. 20) to a request for comment. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.

Spincraft is a division of the Standex Engineering Technologies Group. The group provides single-source customized solutions using metal spinning, heat treating, machining, press forming and other fabrication services for virtually all workable metal alloys. The company serves the aerospace, aviation, defense, energy, industrial, medical and marine markets.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Grinders; Health and safety; Marine; OSHA; Steel; Violations

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