Washington Bottle Maker Fined After Worker’s Hand Amputated

November 5, 2014

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has fined a plastic bottle manufacturer in Battle Ground $86,800 for safety violations after a worker’s hand was caught in machinery and had to be amputated.

Andersen Plastics was cited for one willful violation and six serious violations. The investigation found several problems with the company’s lockout/tagout safety program, a term that refers to the deliberate process of shutting down machinery to prevent accidental startup.

Failure to prevent machinery from accidentally starting puts workers at risk of serious injuries, such as the amputation that occurred in April when a worker was performing a routine task, according to the department.

workplace-safetyThe department cited the employer for a “willful” violation after the investigation allegedly found that workers were trained to use unsafe work practices, including bypassing safety guards and not ensuring the machinery was locked out so that it couldn’t start up accidentally.

A willful violation can be issued when the department has evidence of plain indifference, a substitution of judgment or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. The penalty for the one willful violation is $58,500.

Additionally, the investigation showed the company did not have specific procedures or a safety program to prevent accidental startup. The employees lacked training and did not understand the purpose or procedures for locking out equipment before making adjustments, performing maintenance or clearing a jam, according to the investigation.

Andersen Plastics has filed an appeal.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

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