Curt Manufacturing LLC is facing eight safety violations, including one willful violation, and $105,000 in fines for allowing workers to continue operating an unguarded hydraulic power press brake after a worker suffered an injury, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials said.

An employee’s thumb ended up crushed while he was bending a metal part between the unguarded dies of the brake on July 25. Once at the hospital, doctors had to amputate the thumb. The Eau Claire, WI-based maker of towing components was still operating the unguarded press brake when OSHA initiated an inspection on Aug. 16 based on a referral from the state of Wisconsin. Curt Manufacturing employs 430 workers.

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“Failing to have proper machine guarding in the first place, and to cease operating the power press brake in order to correct safety discrepancies following the injury of a worker, demonstrate a complete lack of regard for employees’ safety and health,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire.

The willful violation carries a proposed penalty of $70,000. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

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Five serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $35,000 involve failing to develop, document and use hazardous energy control procedures for machines with multiple energy sources; conduct annual inspections of those procedures; ensure lockout devices were affixed to energy isolating devices by authorized employees; provide point-of-operation guarding on a band saw and tube bender; and provide hand tools that permit easy material handling and prevent workers from placing their hands in machine danger zones. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known.

Two other-than-serious violations involve failing to provide information to workers voluntarily using respirators and failing to evaluate a potential permit-required confined space. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical injury.

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