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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