As they investigated unsafe working conditions at a Salina, KS, battery manufacturer, federal investigators initiated a second safety inspection after the company reported an unguarded machine partially amputated a 32-year-old worker’s left middle finger.

As a result, Exide Technologies is now facing $127,300 in fines for one willful, and 10 serious safety and health violations based on the Oct. 27 complaint and Dec. 3 injury inspections, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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OSHA found workers exposed to electrical and machine hazards. The agency also issued a hazard alert letter to the plant for failing to implement a heat-stress program.

“Exide Technologies is exposing workers to dangerous electrical and machine hazards that can cause devastating and life-changing injuries like the one this worker suffered,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita. “While working as a strip caster, this man joined 65 other Kansas workers who, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports suffered preventable, workplace amputation injuries in 2015. Exide needs to clean up its act and take immediate action to fix these hazards.”

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Inspectors found the amputation injury occurred when the strip caster’s left hand ended up caught in the unguarded belts, pulleys and gears of a lead chopping machine at the facility.

OSHA also cited the company for:
• Using electrical cable trays and equipment found deteriorating from exposure to sulfuric acid vapors
• Allowing acid and water to accumulate on floors causing holes, slip and trip hazards
• Impeding exit paths
• Failing to develop a permit-required confined space program
• Not training and monitoring workers in confined space
• Not labeling hazardous chemical containers
• Failing to train workers about hazardous chemicals in use

Based in Milton, GA, Exide focuses on smart battery development and advanced materials and process design at research facilities in the U.S., Germany, Italy and Spain. The company employs 620 workers at the Salina facility and 5,000 globally.

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