Auto Parts Company Fined Over Safety Hazards Leading to Death of Employee at Massachusetts Work Site

Employers are required to maintain workplace safety standards set forth by federal law.  The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), recently cited a used auto parts business in Bellingham, Massachusetts for failing to abide by required workplace safety standards.  This failure led to an employee’s death, and was preventable.

OSHA stated that the employee was working for the company when he was struck in the head by a chain come-a-long device.  He had been attempting to inflate and mount a multi-piece rim wheel onto a vehicle. Days later, he died. This type of incident, labeled a “struck by” hazard by OSHA, continues to cause many fatalities and serious injuries.  Typically, this kind of injury is caused by impact between a piece of equipment and an injured person.

Inspectors working for OSHA in the Braintree Area Office found that the company had not provided adequate training and proper safeguards that would have protected the worker, as well as other employees.  OSHA specifically maintains a publication for safety methods related to servicing multi-piece and single-piece rim wheels.

Servicing rim wheels is dangerous, and OSHA stated in their press release that it exposes workers to struck-by hazards. Employers are required to properly train their employees to perform the work safety before beginning this type of work.  The area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts stated that employers should review operations and take corrective action if necessary, so other workers are not killed.

Specifically, in this case, the employer had not instructed and trained employees in how to safely and correctly perform operating procedures for servicing multi-piece rim wheels.  When inflating the tire, the employer had not provided a restraining device that employees could use.

The inspection revealed violations that included lack of exit route signage, lack of personal protective equipment, forklift training and failure to train about hazardous chemicals in the workplace.  Additionally, the employer had not notified OSHA of the employee’s death, as is required.

When an employee suffers a fatal injury or work-related hospitalization, loss of an eye, or amputation, OSHA must be notified within 24 hours. In the event of a fatality, OSHA must be notified within 8 hours. These requirements for reporting a severe injury or fatality apply to businesses throughout the nation.

Due to the conditions in the workplace, the used auto and parts company was cited for 12 workplace safety standards violations.  The proposed penalties totaled $27,157.  Within 15 days, the company must meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

By federal and state law, employers must protect their employees from preventable hazards.  OSHA investigates companies that violate workplace safety standards, and will respond to employee complaints of workplace safety violations.  If you or someone you love has been injured in a workplace accident, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Pulgini & Norton will help you assert your right to benefits and payments for medical costs associated with the accident.  For a free consultation, call our office at (781) 843-2200 or get in touch online.

More Blog Posts:

Gutter Firm Cited by OSHA for Repeat Violations After Massachusetts Worker Falls and Suffers Severe Injuries, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 16, 2017

Massachusetts Seafood Wholesaler Cited by Federal Agency for Serious Violations that Fatally Injured Employee and Exposed Employees to Risk of Harm, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2017

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