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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited the NOX Corporation, which designs and manufacturers luxury vinyl tile flooring, for machine safety violations. The company is headquartered in South Korea, but it was the Ohio facility, which was recently opened in February 2016, that was found to be violating safety protocols.

The company now faces $514,236 in proposed penalties.

Two Employees Seriously Injured at NOX Corporation in Ohio

OSHA responded to two separate reports of employee injuries at the Ohio facility in June 2017. Both injuries occurred within two weeks of each other. In the first one, the employee got his hand crushed in a tile machine. The injury required surgery. In the second one, the employee suffered from partial amputations of two fingers while working on a recycle material system.

OSHA investigators inspected the facility, and found that the company failed to use lockout/tagout procedures on devices that would have potentially prevented the injuries. They also noted that NOX failed to properly train employees in the safe operation of certain machinery, and that employees were exposed to fall hazards.

OSHA Area Office Director Kim Nelson stated that employees “must monitor their facilities continuously” to ensure they are maintained safely. NOX has been placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The Ohio facility is located in Fostoria, Ohio. Over 100 city and state officials attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting on February 2, 2016.

Lockout/Tagout Necessary to Protect Employees

Lockout/tagout procedures are meant to protect employees from hazardous energy. When workers are maintaining or servicing certain machines, those machines can unexpectedly start up, or release stored energy that can cause serious injury or even death. If this energy is not controlled properly, possible injuries may include burns, electrocution, amputations, and crushing.

OSHA gives examples of cases where these types of injuries may take place. If workers are repairing a downstream connection in piping, for example, and upstream, a steam valve is automatically turned on, those workers may get burned. Or a worker may be trying to clear a jam on a conveyor system, and if the system suddenly releases without warning, that worker could be crushed.

Companies are responsible for putting into place certain practices and procedures to help prevent these sorts of injuries. These are called “lockout/tagout” procedures. They are outlined thoroughly by OSHA and are readily available to employers. Companies are also supposed to properly train their employees in these procedures to be sure they know how and when to apply them.

Some of the most critical requirements for companies include developing, implementing, and enforcing an energy control program, using lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out, providing effective training for all employees, ensuring that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out, and ensuring that lockout/tagout devices are authorized for the particular equipment or machinery on which they’re used.

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