A contract packaging company based out of Dudley, MA is facing hefty fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after their negligence and subsequent actions seriously endangered one of their temporary workers in May of 2016.
On May 26, 2016, an improperly-trained temporary worker for Shield Packaging Co. Inc., which specializes in filling, packaging and shipping products stored in pressurized aerosol cans, was cleaning the filling nozzles along a production line when the equipment unexpectedly turned on, violently piercing his finger with the sharp filling nozzle and “inflating” his arm with pressurized, propellant gas.
The incident alone was gruesome enough, but Shield Packaging truly blundered in their reaction to the horrible accident. The worker’s employers did not even call 911 in the immediate aftermath. The injured employee was the one to initiate a 911 call. After the call was made, the employee was taken in a private vehicle to the hospital where they underwent emergency treatment and was hospitalized.
OSHA requires all employers to report all serious accidents that require hospitalization within 24 hours, which Shield Packaging did not do. The western Massachusetts branch of OSHA only learned of the incident through a complaint and opened an investigation on June 6, 2016.
This investigation yielded more violations at the Shield Packaging Co. Inc. plant, including:
- Failure to properly guard aerosol can crimping machinery from employee contact
- Failure to provide hearing protection and training to employees working in high noise levels
- Failure to ensure that designated exit routes did not go through dangerous areas
- Failure to provide employees with face shields, gloves and other protective equipment
- Failure to safeguard against the unintentional startup of dangerous machinery during cleaning and maintenance procedures, and failure to train employees about the proper safety techniques
- Failure to prevent the use of defective powered industrial trucks
- Failure to provide employees with training and information about hazardous chemicals
In total, there were 17 serious, repeat or other violations found as a result of the investigation, yielding a total penalty of $295,967 in fines. Many of these violations carried heavier fines due to being repeat violations from a previous inspection of the plant in 2013. There were two additional serious violations filed separately, making a grand total of about $338,000 in citations.
This level of employee neglect is inexcusable
When there are 17 serious violations found in a routine investigation, including repeat violations that have not been corrected in over three years since a prior investigation, it can really only mean one thing: this employer does not take the safety of their employees anywhere close to seriously enough.
Accidents at work happen, but accidents involving temporary employees that haven’t been properly trained or given the proper safety equipment to perform their tasks are entirely avoidable. This worker would likely have a great case should they decide to take up legal action, especially since the supervisors did not seem inclined to even call for emergency services, even after what was an obviously horrifying injury.
The fines levied by OSHA here are significant for any company, but employees that haven been injured at work should always consult with a team of legal professionals to assess their individual options. They may be facing medical expenses and lost wages due to their injuries, and the OSHA fines will do nothing to help their personal financial situation.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience pursuing cases involving workers injured on the job due to the negligence of their employers. If you or a loved one has been harmed at work in an avoidable accident, call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199 for a free consultation to talk about your options for financial compensation.