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Texas plant injury could result in $181,000 in penalties

Many industrial plants pose a great many risks of workplace accidents to workers. There often are large machines, with moving belts, augurs, grinders, presses and other powerful equipment that can easily crush or kill a worker should they become entangled in the workings of the machine.

There are forklifts, pall jacks and other machines for moving material around the facility. In addition, when any type of equipment is being serviced, there needs to be proper procedures and equipment that protects against workplace accidents.  

Equipment must be capable of being locked out, do it does not suddenly begin operation while a worker is trapped or exposed to everything from moving parts to electrical current.

A plant in Texas was found to be in violation of multiple Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations as a result of a worker suffering a leg injury from an auger in November 2013. OSHA found 12 safety violations and assessed a penalty of $181,000.

The company was found to have a willful violation, where they failed to protect workers from being injured by the auger when they were servicing or performing maintenance on the equipment. The plant had nine other serious violations that also involved for various safety problems, such as lack of guards on machines and open floors and pits.

The local director of OSHA in Austin admonished the company, which he noted is an "established company" and has "long-term management," and should, in essence, know better. OSHA has cited the company before for incidents involving fatalities at their Texas facilities.

OSHA regulations exist to protect workers, prevent deaths and injuries, and lower lost time and workers' compensation costs. Violations of these regulations are short sighted and everyone loses in the end when companies attempt to get away with this behavior.

Source: WorkersCompensation.com, "Texas Fertilizer Operator Cited Following Serious Injury," May 6, 2014 

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