When a person heads off to work in the morning the last thing he or she thinks is that a workplace accident will occur that results in permanent disability. You assume that your company and the supervisors empowered to watch over operations make worker safety a priority, implementing procedures to guarantee that no one suffers avoidable harm. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some companies are too lax when it comes to their employees’ safety and fail to take action to prevent accidents from occurring until it’s too late.
Recently, a major manufacturer in Mississippi, Corinth-based Mississippi Polymers Inc., was slapped with a fine for serious violations uncovered by an OSHA investigation. OSHA (the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration) says the company committed 11 safety violations and must now pay a $56,300 fine due to the problems that were revealed.
The investigation into Mississippi Polymers began last year when two workers were seriously injured within a week of each other. OSHA says it first got word that in late September a worker sustained a severe injury when his hand got caught in a print roller and was badly crushed. Only six days later a second worker, a mill operator, had her hand caught in another print roller. In that case, the crush injury was so severe that a portion of her pinky finger had to be amputated.
In both cases, the workers say they were simply attempting to clean the print rollers, a normal part of their jobs. OSHA sent skilled investigators to the plant to observe operations and uncovered a range of problems. For one thing, the company routinely exposed its employees to unguarded rollers as well as unprotected shafts and gears. Additionally, the company was cited for failing to properly train workers on how to use these dangerous machines as well as procedures for how to avoid these harms in the first place. Finally, the company was cited for failing to provide safety rails on stairs.
A spokesperson for OSHA said that this case illustrates the broader point that companies cannot be allowed to expose employees to known dangers in the workplace. What happened to the two employees who had their hands caught in the print rollers is especially tragic because, in both cases, the accidents were so easily preventable. Had the company simply installed the proper protective guards, the accidents would never have occurred and the two workers would have full use of their hands.
Sadly, it’s impossible to go back in time and fix the problems based on what we know now. All regulators can do is police violations when they occur and hope that employers understand that it is vitally important to protect the welfare of their employees. Failing to do so can lead to serious harm to innocent workers who only wanted to do their job and go home safely to their families.
Source: “OSHA cites Corinth company for 11 violations after accidents,” by Ted Carter, published at MSBusiness.com.