On April 6th, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a manufacturing company over $293,000 for continuing machine guarding safety violations. A follow-up inspection revealed a failure to address the initial machine safety violations found in a previous inspection. OSHA recognizes that unguarded moving machine parts are a source of severe workplace injuries. Last month, OSHA released its 2022 injury and illness data reporting on workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths from over 300,000 U.S. establishments.

Overview of the Violations

OSHA initially inspected the manufacturing company in April 2022. Initial inspections found several machine guarding safety violations. In November 2022, OSHA conducted a follow-up inspection at the facility and found the same machine safety violations initially recorded. Specifically, the employer required workers to perform maintenance on machines and equipment without specific safety procedures. According to OSHA inspectors, the employer failed to implement an energy control program that included energy control procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections. Additionally, multiple machine guarding safety (lockout/tagout) violations directly exposed workers to moving machine hazards.

OSHA Machine Guarding Safety and Lockout/Tagout Standards

When employees come into contact with moving machine parts, it can cause severe or fatal injuries. Injuries can include crushed fingers and hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Therefore employers are obligated to eliminate or sufficiently control these machine safety hazards along with other workplace hazards. Fulfilling these obligations puts employers in compliance with the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Specific to employers that have moving machinery in the workplace, the following OSHA standards apply:

  • Under OSHA’s Machinery and Machine Guarding Standard 1910.212, employers must provide one or more methods of machine guarding to protect employees and operators from hazards associated with rotating parts, flying chips and sparks, point of operation, and nip points. Guarding methods may include barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, and electronic safety devices.
  • Furthermore, OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) Standard 1910.147 requires employers to implement a program that uses lockout or tagout devices to disable machines or equipment. These devices are meant to prevent unexpected energization, start-up, or release of stored energy and prevent employee injury or death.

In combination, these two standards help ensure that employees are kept separate from the hazardous moving parts of machinery during operation and that they are kept safe from accidental start-up during maintenance.

OSHA Penalties for Machine Safety Violations

In the end, OSHA cited the manufacturing company $293,982 in proposed penalties. The citation included one serious violation for failing to implement energy control procedures. Presently, the company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply. Alternatively, they may request an informal conference or contest the findings.