OSHA Cites Wood Pallet Factory Where Teenager Lost His Hand
July 19, 2015 | 4:27 pm CDT

MIDDLEFIELD, OH - A teenager working in a wood pallet factory saw lost his hand when his employer allowed him to operate a wood planer illegally.

Shady Knob Pallet Co. of Middlefield, OH,  received citations from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration on July 7. The citations followed an inspection that found the 14-year-old boy suffered the injury when he touched the operating parts of a wood planer while manufacturing pallets on March 31.

Shady Knob violated the law by allowing an employee under 18 to work on the machine. Inspectors found the wood planer was one of several machines that lacked required safety guards to protect workers.

"Workers under age 18 are prohibited from operating power-driven woodworking machinery, such as the wood planer used here," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "Without safety mechanisms, personal protective equipment and proper training, employees are at risk. Shady Knob Pallet Co. must know the laws and protect the safety and well-being of its workers."

OSHA issued 17 serious safety violations to Shady Knob Pallet, with proposed fines totalling $43,200. In addition to missing safety mechanisms, inspectors found Shady Knob failed to:

  •     Train worksite staff to provide first aid.
  •     Establish an exposure control plan for employees exposed to blood during first aid.
  •     Teach employees about workplace chemical hazards.
  •     Provide, and train workers on, the use of personal protective equipment.
  •     Store flammable liquids correctly.
  •     Use self-closing valves on gasoline drums used to power equipment.
  •     Install electrical equipment properly.

Shady Knob Pallet Co. was given 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, or to request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Cleveland. The company could also contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.