WATSEKA — A metal-products company has been fined more than $200,000 following incidents earlier this year in which two workers suffered amputation injuries.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited T & D Metal Products of Watseka with four safety violations, including three willful violations, after two workers were injured at the company's metal-stamping facility in January.
The company, which does metal fabrication, tool-and-die making, mold creation and more, has been cited for safety violations a total of 47 times since 1988.
As a result, it has been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law, according to an OSHA spokesman.
In January, T & D employees were performing maintenance on press brakes without the proper electricity shutoff, resulting in the machine being activated, said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen.
"It wouldn't have activated if the proper procedures had been in place. This is common knowledge. There's no excuse for this lack of safety precaution. The company has been around long enough to know the rules and dangers," Allen said.
The willful violations included failure to lock out/tag out hazardous energy sources prior to performing maintenance operations and to have point-of-operation guarding on the press brakes on Jan. 10 and Jan. 18. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, according to OSHA.
One serious safety violation was cited for failing to use safety blocks when dies were being adjusted and repaired. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"T & D Metal Products failed to ensure machine guarding and safety procedures were in place to protect employees, even after a worker was injured. This negligence contributed to a second worker being injured on the same type of equipment eight days later," said Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria in a written statement. "Employers have a responsibility for following established safety practices to ensure equipment has safety guards and workers are provided with adequate training."
OSHA's visits to the facility in January were prompted by the accidents. Proposed penalties for the citations total $214,830.
OSHA inspected the facility 12 times since 1988 and, as a result of those inspections, cited the company for 26 serious violations, four repeat violations and 17 violations other than serious.
The company was cited 23 times for machine-guarding related violations between 1991 and 2009, according to OSHA.
"Their track record is the reason they were put on the Severe Violators Enforcement Program," Allen said.
OSHA launched the program last June.
The company has 15 days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, set up a conference with OSHA or appeal the findings.
A call to T & D Metal Products was not immediately returned on Monday. According to its website, the company was founded in 1951 by Otto Tauck and Howard Dittrich in Marengo. It later relocated to Watseka, and Howard Dittrich became the sole owner. Howard's son, Roger Dittrich, and Roger's son, Shane Dittrich, run the company today, according to the site.