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15 Workers Suffer Amputations at Chicago Manufacturing Plant

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BWAY Corporation, a manufacturer of rigid packaging—which includes metal, plastic, and hybrid containers—was recently cited for five repeated and five serious safety violations at its Chicago location.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) received four reports of workers suffering injuries at the manufacturing plant, and when investigating these reports, found the violations. The company faces more than $500,000 in fines.

15 Workers Suffer from Amputations at BWAY

According to a recent news release from OSHA, one of the four reported injuries involved an employee who was operating a piece of equipment when his hand was crushed inside it. He suffered two broken bones in his hand. The other three reports involved employees who suffered from amputations with machinery that wasn’t properly guarded.

When conducting their investigation, OSHA discovered that 15 workers had suffered from amputations as a result of injuries sustained at this manufacturing plant. BWAY makes a number of different types of containers, including those that hold food, paint, and ammunition. The company employs about 4,000 people across its 27 facilities, with about 500 employees at the Chicago area plant.

According to the Chicago Tribune, OSHA has inspected BWAY about 32 times in the last five years and cited them for safety violations 18 of those times.

BWAY Now on the “Severe Violation Enforcement Program”

The OSHA inspection revealed that BWAY had made several oversights in safety. These included:

  • Failing to train workers in lockout/tagout procedures
  • Failing to provide adequate machine guarding on mechanical power press, belts and pulleys, chains and sprockets

The investigators found these violations occurred over and over again, on several pieces of equipment. The situation was considered so serious that OSHA placed BWAY on its Severe Violation Enforcement Program, which “concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

As part of this program, BWAY will have to submit to regular follow-up inspections and increased OSHA enforcement, and will need to create corporate-wide agreements to improve overall worker safety.

Companies are Responsible for Monitoring Equipment and Training Procedures

Machines used at these manufacturing plants can be very dangerous, and companies are responsible for helping their employees use them as safely as possible. OSHA area director Kathy Webb stated that lack of machine guards and procedures, such as those found at BWAY, “contribute to multiple employee injuries nationwide each year.” She added that companies must monitor their equipment, training, and procedures regularly to “ensure employees are protected from machine hazards.”

According to OSHA safety standards, any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded, to help reduce the risk of injuries like amputations. OSHA offers specific instructions for how companies can identify and reduce workplace machine and equipment hazards that are likely to cause amputations. Companies need only to follow them.

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  1. up arrow

    Thank you for the article. However, in the case of BWAY, you note:

    >…employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

    Does OSHA not have the authority to levy and enforce huge fines or monetary damage against repeat offenders? What sanctions, other than the above bureaucratic measures, can and should be taken against such companies that habitually violate safety rules?

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