By Brent I. Clark and Craig B. Simonsen
Last week OSHA issued its updated National Emphasis Program on Amputations (NEP). Instruction CPL 03-00-019 (June 30, 2015). Take that juxtaposed against OSHA’s citation in a recent case where on his first day on the job a 21-year-old employee suffered severe burns and the loss of four fingers.
National Emphasis Program on Amputations
The NEP, which was first issued in 2006, was targeted toward industries with high numbers and rates of amputations. In the updated NEP, OSHA has used updated enforcement data and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) injury data to better direct its inspection site selection targeting. According to OSHA, manufacturing employers report that 2,000 workers suffered amputations in 2013. The BLS rate of amputations in the manufacturing sector was “more than twice as much (1.7 per 10,000 full-time employees) as that of all private industry (0.7).”
In the NEP announcement the OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels said “this directive will help ensure that employers identify and eliminate serious workplace hazards and provide safe workplaces for all workers.” The NEP applies to general industry workplaces in which any machinery or equipment likely to cause amputations are present. Inspections “will include an evaluation of employee exposures during operations such as: clearing jams; cleaning, oiling or greasing machines or machine pans; and locking out machinery to prevent accidental start-up.”
The NEP lists out the more than ninety 2012 NAICS code industries that will fall under the enhanced inspection regime. The industries fall within a large scope, including those such as dairy, meat processing, bakeries, food manufacturing, wood industries, paperboard, printing, plastics, concrete, metals, arms and munitions, farm implements and equipment, power generation and transmission equipment, laboratory equipment, vehicle manufacturing, and household equipment and furniture.
Recent Case Example
Just last week OSHA issued a citation against a plastics manufacturer where on his first day on the job a 21-year-old employee suffered severe burns and the loss of four fingers. According to OSHA, its “inspectors found the company failed to train the employee about safety requirements that protect workers from machine hazards. [The company] also failed to report the injury to the agency, as required.” In response to the incident, the company was given a proposed penalty of $171,270, and it was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).
While we only have OSHA’s version of the facts, the scenario is illustrative of how OSHA views training for new employees. For instance, the citation claims that the employer failed to train the employee about safety requirements that protect workers from machine hazards. The employee was out on the shop floor, on his first day, attempting to dislodge a jam in a machine. OSHA expects employers to carefully train new employees and take extra caution to ensure they are safe. Employers should consider whether their new employee training and orientation is appropriate given the hazards and complexity of the job.
In addition to the penalty, being placed on OSHA’s SVEP will put the employer in a position where it will be subject to increased inspections over many years. Making the case to have the company removed from the SVEP will be a time consuming and expensive process, and may not be successful under OSHA’s one-sided procedures.
In another teaching moment, once the amputation had occurred, especially now since the adoption and implementation of OSHA’s revised reporting rules, the company allegedly “failed to report the injury to the agency.” Employers need to have reviewed the new OSHA reporting rules and determined the applicability as to their business. Don’t wait for an incident to think about whether or not you need to report. Figure it out now while you are not under a potentially expensive time clock.