Compliance with federal safety regulations seems to be a nationwide problem. Some company owners in Colorado and elsewhere put worker safety second to company profits. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently expressed its disappointment in a lumber company in another state after learning of an unreported May incident in which a worker was injured at work in similar circumstances that led to citations only three months prior.
The May workplace accident resulted in a worker suffering a fractured leg after a piece of lumber was shot out of an overloaded machine. The investigation into this incident culminated recently and formed part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations. OSHA said the lumber company continued to expose workers to unguarded machinery, pulleys and belts, and the amputation hazards that led to previous citations continued to exist.
Workers were moving about on unguarded 10-foot high platforms, and eye protection was not provided to protect their eyes from flying particles and wood dust. Other repeat violations included the lack of lockout and tagout procedures to protect workers during machine maintenance, electrical hazards and inappropriate storage facilities for compressed gas cylinders. The lumber mill is now facing more than $43,000 in fines for repeatedly exposing its workers to safety hazards that may result in amputations or even death.
Colorado companies who fail to prioritize worker safety may not realize that employees who are injured at work will negatively affect their insurance premiums and, ultimately, the profitability of their businesses. Injured workers are entitled to pursue benefits through the workers’ compensation insurance program. In addition to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, workers who suffered amputations or other disabilities may receive additional compensation, and if appropriate, vocational training will be provided to equip them with new skills.
Source: al.com, “Alabama lumber mill faces $43,116 in fines for exposing workers to deadly safety hazards”, Erin Edgemon, Oct. 14, 2015