RIPON, Wis. – On Dec. 6, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed penalties of $124,709 to Alliance Laundry Systems after its investigation of a July 20, 2016, injury identified one willful safety violation. Inspectors found the Ripon-based company returned a hydraulic press to operation without adding safety guarding after a 65-year-old employee’s right middle finger tip was amputated as he lowered a press used to square parts for washing machines and dryers.
“Despite earlier machine related injuries, Alliance Laundry Systems allowed workers to operate a machine without installing safety guards. We find these failures troubling,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director in Appleton. “Ignoring guarding methods required by OSHA creates a culture where employees’ well-being is deemed unimportant, and workers are left to suffer the consequences.”
As part of the settlement agreement OSHA agreed to reclassify the willful violation to a repeat violation with a 50% penalty reduction in exchange for 17 Enhancements at Alliance Laundry. The company has agreed to pay a penalty of $63,354.50
The agreement includes several commitments on the part of Alliance Laundry to improve working conditions including:
– Hiring two additional safety and health positions
– Implementing a Machine Safeguarding Mapping Program
– Relocating 11 electrical disconnects from mezzanines to machine side to provide easier lockout/tag out.
– Improved training
– Development of safety procedures
– Improved communication
In a previous investigation, OSHA learned that a grommet cutting machine severed a 26-year-old employee’s right index finger on June 3, 2016. In that case, the agency issued four serious violations to Alliance in July 2016. The incidents in the summer of 2016 continue a recent history of preventable worker injuries at the company. On Aug. 12, 2015, a 51-year-old employee’s right hand was crushed when he came in contact with operating parts of a folding machine. The injury resulted in the amputation of his right middle finger.