Improper Lockout-Tagout Causes Partial Amputation

Improper lockout-tagout protocol leads to partial amputation at plastics firm in Ohio.The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation of Richmond, Virginia-based food plastics manufacturer, Liqui-Box Corporation, following a complaint, stemming from a workplace accident involving improper lockout-tagout protocol which resulted in the partial amputation of an employee’s left thumb at an Ashland, Ohio facility. Following the investigation, OSHA issued citations, on Aug. 11, 2016, for three serious and one “other-than serious” safety violations. Liqui-Box are manufacturers of plastic packaging products and employ 200 workers at their Ashland, Ohio facility. The proposed penalty for the citations issued was, $42,413.

The employee injury is determined to have occurred on Feb. 23, 2016. The employee suffered the injury while operating a plastic blow molding press. The press was operating with its guard door open and, while reaching for a part, the employee inadvertently placed his hand onto the machine mold, during press-operation. The injury crushed the employee’s thumb and led to a partial amputation. Improper lockout-tagout is part of a larger injury class that involves the control of hazardous energy as cited by OSHA.

OSHA Toledo area director, Kim Nelson, said, of the improper lockout-tagout incident, “Each year, hundreds of workers suffer amputation and other serious injuries while operating machines in manufacturing facilities. Liqui-Box could have prevented this worker’s injury by following common sense safety procedures. Once it occurred, the company was obligated to report the incident to OSHA – but failed to do so.”

Violations which resulted in citations, included:

  • Failure to report injury to OSHA within 24 hours
  • Failure to properly guard machine
  • Failure to implement lockout/tag out procedures
  • Failure to properly train workers in lockout/tagout procedures

Many workplace injuries are easily avoidable, through proper education or training of both management and practitioner-level staff. In some cases, serious injury can occur because a simple protocol was forgotten or taken for granted. One resource that can refresh the memory of a knowledgeable manufacturing staff and/or educate the novice employee is an OSHA-approved training course.