The amputation a 21-year-old temporary worker’s six fingers was preventable if his South Elgin, IL, employer had installed proper safety guards to keep the operator’s hands out of the metal press’ danger zone, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA inspectors responded after the Nov. 4 incident at Custom Aluminum Products. Custom Aluminum Products specializes in custom extrusions, fabrication, welding, bending, painting, anodizing, assembly, packing and inventory warehousing at two sites in South Elgin and Genoa.
An investigation determined the worker, employed for four weeks, suffered the loss of his ring, middle and index fingers and part of his right pinky finger when his hands became caught as he hand-fed parts into an aluminum press.
On April 29, the agency cited the company for one willful and one serious safety violation and proposed $70,000 in penalties.
“It’s hard to imagine the agony and pain this young man suffered when six of his fingers were amputated,” said Jake Scott, OSHA’s area director in Aurora. “His life is now forever altered because the press lacked required safe guarding devices. These devices would have prevented his hands from coming in contact with the operating parts of the machine.”
Since Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA required all employers to report any severe work-related injury — defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye — within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within eight hours remains in force. In the first full year of the program, Illinois employers reported 173 amputations. Amputation hazards remain among the most frequently cited OSHA violations.