The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration fined FedEx Ground Packaging System, Inc. upon finding an unguarded conveyor belt at the company’s Wilmington, MA shipping distribution center.
After inspecting the Wilmington facility, OSHA officials discovered that the belt conveyor system’s rotating parts were insufficiently guarded on the periphery to prevent employee’s fingers and hands from potentially becoming caught. Failing to guard the conveyor belt could have resulted in injuries, including pinched and crushed fingers and hands, concussions, abrasions and serious nerve damage. Proper machine guarding would ensure that no part of an employee’s body would come into contact with the machine’s moving parts.
According to OSHA’s records, the company has already twice been cited for similar safety violations in 2010 and 2011 at facilities in Grove City, Ohio, and in Syracuse, New York.
“It is critical for workers’ safety and health that an employer with multiple facilities, such as this, ensures that required safeguards are in place and maintained effectively at all times in all locations,” Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA’s acting deputy regional administrator for New England said.
Considering the company’s prior violations, OSHA cited FedEx for a repeat violation with a proposed fine of $44,000. According to OSHA, a repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Injuries including limb crushing, caught-in injuries, abrasions, and amputations are some of the most debilitating types of injuries that can occur in a factory-setting workplace, and can involve a variety of types of machinery. Often, these injuries occur as the result of employees operating unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machinery such as: mechanical power presses, powered and non-powered conveyor belts, printing presses, roll-forming/bending machines, sheering machines, food slicers, meat-cutting saws, drill presses, milling machines, grinding machines, and slitters.
Safeguarding is also an essential component of preventing such types of injuries. A safeguard is a mechanism installed onto or within the machine that detects and prevents hazards, and in the event of an accident, can halt a machine. There are different types of safeguarding devices including barrier guards; which physically obstruct contact between the point of hazard and the worker, as well as awareness devices; which signal a warning to an operator of an impending or present hazard.
Guards provide physical barriers that prevent access to hazardous parts of a machine. They should be strong and secure, and workers should not be able to remove, tamper with, or bypass these guards. They should not obstruct the operator’s view or prevent employees from working.
Devices help prevent contact with points of operation and may supplement or replace the use of guards. Devices can interrupt the normal cycle of the machine when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation, prevent the operator from reaching into the point of operation, or withdraw the operator’s hands as they approach the point of operation when the machine cycles. They must allow safe lubrication and maintenance and not create hazards or interrupt normal machine operation. Devices should be secure, tamper-resistant, and durable.
Every employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of his or her employees. This includes making sure that all employees are properly trained to do their jobs without hazard, that the workplace environment is free of potential hazards that may cause injury, and that all equipment is properly working and maintained.
Experiencing any type of workplace injury can be a life-altering event and may not only inhibit you from returning to work, but cause emotional and physical duress that may prevent you from returning to a normal life. If you or someone you love was a victim of a workplace injury, call or email the law office of Altman & Altman to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Massachusetts Worker Compensation Lawyers. For nearly 50 years, we have been helping clients recover workers’ compensation benefits, lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for emotional pain and suffering due to an injury they sustained on the job. Our attorneys are available around the clock to assist you through each and every part of your case and to answer any and all of your questions.