An employee of United Hospital Supply Corp. lost three fingers while using a press brake because supervisors and employees deliberately bypassed the light curtain safety mechanism.
United Hospital Supply Corp. facing $500,000 fine after employee cuts off three fingers
May 24, 2023
by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter
United Hospital Supply Corp., a manufacturer of steel cabinets, lockers, laboratory hoods, and other metal products for hospitals and labs, has been hit with $498,464 in penalties by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for over 20 safety violations found after an employee amputated three of his fingers on the job.
The incident occurred on the employee’s first day of work at a New Jersey manufacturing facility in Burlington while he was operating a press brake, a machine for bending sheet metal and metal plates. Supervisors and employees had deliberately bypassed the press brake’s light curtain, which could have prevented the injury, according to OSHA, which found the company’s conduct to be a willful violation.
Following two investigations in November 2022, it issued three willful violations, 17 serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation related to the incident, as well as the company’s failure to remove and repair an inoperable forklift, and provide hazard communication training for chemicals used in the facility, despite previously being cited by OSHA for these violations during inspections in 2010 and 2015.
Additionally, the company exposed workers to welding fumes above permissible exposure levels, failed to provide respirators when necessary, did not develop a lockout/tagout program to prevent machines from accidentally starting up, and did not provide employees with lockout/tagout training.
Because of its intentional disregard and willful violations, the company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which includes mandatory follow-up inspections and enforcement actions at corporate level, corporate-wide agreements, enhanced settlement provisions, and federal court enforcement under the OSH Act; and affects nationwide referral procedures, including OSHA's state plans.
“Despite previous citations and penalties, United Hospital Supply Corp. has ignored its responsibility for protecting the safety and health of its employees. Machine guarding is a basic safety measure for reducing dangerous hazards for machine operators which, in this case, could have prevented a new employee from suffering a traumatic life-changing injury,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey, in a statement.
United Hospital Supply Corp. must comply with the recommended changes within 15 days from the receipt of these citations and penalties, as well as request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.