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Federal regulators have cited a New Jersey cup manufacturer for a slew of safety violations in an inspection following the amputation of a worker’s fingertips.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Plastico Products LLC with 28 safety and health violations at its Irvington, NJ facility and proposed penalties totaling $156,600. The inspection was prompted by an incident in November 2011 in which an employee suffered amputation of the fingertips involving machinery.

“Plastico Products continues to put workers at risk and neglect the implementation of safety measures,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office, which conducted the inspection. “Employers are responsible and liable for worker safety and health.”

OSHA issued citations for 23 serious violations, those that the agency considers to have a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. These citations carried penalties of $72,000 and included:

  • Failure to monitor noise levels from equipment, establish a hearing test program, ensure employees exposed to noise wore hearing protection, and institute training and hearing conservation programs despite exposure of workers to continuous noise levels that exceeded the allowable dose, in some instances more than twice the allowable dose
  • Failure to establish and implement a written respiratory protection program, provide medical evaluation to assess employees’ ability to use a respirator prior to its use and provide training on respirator use
  • Failure to implement and maintain a written Hazard Communication Program for employees exposed to hazardous chemicals, maintain a list of hazardous chemicals onsite and their material safety data sheet, and provide employee training on hazardous chemicals in their workplace
  • Failure to ensure eye protection when there was a reasonable probability of injury that they could prevent, in this case the handling of sulfuric acid without protective eye equipment
  • Stairs lacking proper handrails
  • Employees unable to open an exit route door from the inside at all times without keys, tools or special knowledge.
  • Emergency exit door not marked with an exit sign
  • Lack of directional exit signs to guide people to an exit
  • Failure to provide suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body within the work area for employees exposed to injurious corrosive materials
  • Failure to require the use of hand protection when employee’s hands exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances and chemical burns
  • Failure to establish procedures and provide training on equipment lockout/tagout control of hazardous energy
  • Failure to mount portable fire extinguishers so that they were readily accessible to employees and provide fire extinguisher training to employees expected to use them
  • Failure to use machine guards that protect employees from a machine’s moving parts
  • Missing or inadequate fan blade guards on machine fans
  • Unguarded pulleys
  • Unguarded inclined belts
  • Unguarded chain
  • Screws on revolving part not made flush or guarded by metal cover
  • Use of compressed air exceeding 30 psi for cleaning purposes
  • Worn or damaged parts that adversely affected the safe operation or mechanical strength of equipment
  • Employees exposed to shock hazards by live parts of electric equipment operating at 50 volts or more that were unguarded against electrical contact by approved cabinets or other approved enclosures.
  • Unused openings in boxes, cabinets or fittings were not effectively closed
  • Uncovered electrical boxes and raceways

OSHA inspectors also cited the company and levied $84,000 in penalties for willful violations, those committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health:

  • Failure to protect employees from amputation hazards with energy control (lockout/tagout) procedures
  • Failure to protect employees from amputation hazards by providing machine guarding is in place during operation
  • Failure to prevent employees from placing their hands in machines’ points of operation

Plastico Products also received citations and $600 in penalties for other-than-serious violations involving the company’s failure to record injuries and illnesses on the required log, train operators of industrial trucks and labeling of electrical panels.

“A first step toward preventing hazards such as these is to develop and implement an illness and injury prevention program in which hazardous conditions are proactively eradicated,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional director in New York.

The company has 15 days to comply or contest the citations, or request a meeting with the OSHA area director.

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