Materion Brush, a subsidiary of Materion Corp., was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to protect workers from dangerous machinery, among other violations.
Materion Brush is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, where it produces and supplies beryllium and beryllium oxide products. It also offers metallization, plating, brazing, glazing, post machine firing, laser cutting, and dicing/diamond saw services, and works with the aerospace, automotive, business equipment, undersea and marine, gas and mining, and medical specialties markets.
Based on these findings, OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $70,000.
Materion Cited for Dangerous Machinery Safety Violations
OSHA conducted an investigation into the company after a worker was injured in March 2016. The worker was operating a metal coiler when his right hand got caught in a pinch point. Three of his fingers were fractured.
According to the OSHA Citation and Notice of Penalty, Materion failed to ensure that the metal coiler was properly guarded, which exposed employees to crushing hazards. OSHA cited the company for one willful violation.
During their investigation, OSHA representatives found that the company had failed to be sure the machine had adequate safety guards. OSHA guidelines for machine guarding state that “one or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks.”
They give some examples of appropriate guarding, which include barrier guards, electronic safety devices, and two-hand tripping devices.
Kim Nelson, the OSHA area director in Toledo, explained that OSHA established these guidelines to protect workers, and that Meterion “needs to re-evaluate its safety and health programs to ensure employees are being protected from job hazards.”
Materion has customers in 50 countries and service centers and offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The company was given 15 days from the receipt of the citation to pay the penalties or schedule an informal conference.
Machine Guards Important Safety Tools
Heavy machinery creates a number of risks for employees. Moving machine parts can crush fingers and hands, cause amputations, and result in other injuries like burns and even blindness.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found in their 2005 annual survey that there were 8,450 non-fatal amputation cases for all private industry. The injuries resulted from working with machines like saws, conveyors, presses, and bending, rolling, and shaping machines.
Machine guards are designed to help reduce the risk of these types of injuries. OSHA reported that employers can help prevent workplace amputations by identifying hazards associated with the use and care of their machines, and evaluating any function or process of the machine that can create injury. They also warn employers to be cautious when purchasing used equipment, as it may not come with the same safeguards as newer machines.
Guards, in particular, are physical barriers that “enclose dangerous machine parts and prevent employee contact with them,” according to OSHA. Employers are responsible for not only ensuring these guards are available, but that employees are properly trained on how to use them.
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