An employee’s first day of work at a southern New Jersey manufacturing facility ended tragically when he suffered the amputation of three fingers while operating a press brake without required safety guards, similar to violations cited by federal safety investigators at the facility in 2010 and 2015.
After the incident at United Hospital Supply Corp. in Burlington prompted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor, investigators with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators began two investigations in November 2022.
Following the November inspections, OSHA cited United Hospital Supply for three willful violations, 17 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation and proposed $498,464 in penalties.
For what OSHA determined was the company’s intentional disregard and willful violations, the agency has placed United Hospital Supply in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
United Hospital Supply manufactures steel cabinets, lockers, laboratory hoods and other metal products for hospitals, laboratories and schools. Founded in 1976, the company employs about 100 employees represented by Local 19 of the Sheet Metal Workers Union in Philadelphia.
OSHA cited the company for a willful violation because supervisors and employees deliberately bypassed the press brake’s light curtain, which led to the amputation.
The agency also cited United Hospital Supply for willfully failing to remove and repair an inoperable forklift and to provide hazard communication training for chemicals used in the facility. OSHA has cited the company for the forklift and chemical training violations in its inspections dating back to 2010.
The agency also found the company exposed workers to welding fumes above the permissible exposure levels, did not provide respirators when needed, failed to develop a lockout/tagout program to prevent accidental machine startup and did not provide lockout/tagout training.
“Despite previous citations and penalties, United Hospital Supply Corp. has ignored its responsibility for protecting the safety and health of its employees,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. “Machine guarding is a basic safety measure for reducing dangerous hazards for machine operators which, in this case, could have prevented a new employee from suffering a traumatic life-changing injury.” said OSHA’s Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey.
OSHA’s severe violator cases are subject to mandatory follow-up inspections and, where appropriate, increased awareness of the enforcement actions at the corporate level, corporate-wide agreements, enhanced settlement provisions, and federal court enforcement.
The company has 15 business days to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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