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Optimum Plastics Inc. is facing $81,000 in fines after four workers suffered forearm fractures while operating winder machines with inadequate guarding at the company’s Delaware, OH, packaging plant, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“Optimum Plastics made no effort to provide adequate machine guarding, even after multiple employees suffered injuries while operating this equipment. That is unacceptable,” said OSHA Area Director Deborah Zubaty in Columbus. “Companies must be aware of the hazards that exist in their facilities and take all possible precautions to minimize the risk of injury.”

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On May 16, 2012, an employee had his left arm pulled into the machine, resulting in the fracture of both bones in his left forearm. Similar injuries occurred in January, February and April of this year, which resulted in fractured bones in the forearms of three other employees. During the March complaint inspection, OSHA reviewed company injury reports and medical records and determined at least 15 less severe injuries occurred to employees operating winder machines at the company over the past five years.

One willful violation was for failing to have adequate machine guarding on the winder machines on production lines one, two and three at the plastics packaging plant. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

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OSHA also issued one repeat violation for having a flexible cord the company did not ground. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer faced previous citations for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the past five years. Optimum Plastics ended up cited at the same facility for a similar violation in January 2010.

One serious violation was for installing ring guards on the emergency stop actuators of the winder machine on production line six, which prevented employees from readily activating the emergency stop buttons. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

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