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Mid-Columbia Lumber Products faces $8,160 OSHA penalties for repeat violations.

COURTESY PHOTO: OSHA - A Mid-Columbia Products employee's glove was dragged into the sprocket above when a chain was knocked off the feed deck. He tried to throw the chain back on while the machine was still running.Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Administration Mid-Columbia Lumber Products for six violations, half of which were repeat offenses, at its worksite in Madras.

The proposed penalties, which total $8,610, stemmed from a Sept. 24 incident at the company's Madras site, where an employee's glove got caught between a sprocket and a chain. The man was trying to put the chain back on a feed deck while it was still running, according to OSHA's report. His hand was pulled into a half-inch opening. He pulled the emergency cable to stop the machine with his right hand. Doctors amputated the man's left ring finger, along with the tip of the left pinky. His left middle and pointer fingers were crushed.

Chief Operating Officer John Stembridge declined to comment other than to say, "It is not resolved at this state." He said he hadn't decided whether the company would appeal the citations.

"There is simply no reason to expose workers to hazards that we have long known how to control or eliminate," said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. "To repeatedly violate safety standards – standards that exist to protect people from harm – is the height of recklessness."

The first violation listed said that the company's safety committee was not effective and did not meet legal requirements. Specifically, the company didn't have a written safety and health policy that met OSHA's requirements; it did not post the current safety committee meeting minutes; committee members hadn't been trained on hazard identification; quarterly inspections weren't being conducted; and no annual written comprehensive reviews were being conducted.

The report says that safety committee meetings were held in Spanish, and an employee would translate for English-speaking employees. But the injured employee said "it did not seem like the interpreter was telling him everything that was said in Spanish because it seemed like there was a lot said."

The second citation was given because the company didn't have annual inspectiosn to make sure employees were locking and taggout out like they were required to.

The third citation was the most serious and, according to the report, was a repeated violation. The report says procedures weren't developed or documented to control potentially hazardous energy.

The report says that "employees were exposed to hazards associated with a powered moulder outfeed chain conveyor when they performed service activities on one of the chains that became misaligned without first" following procedure and turning off power to the chain conveyor.

The citation further alleges that "sprocket wheels and chains which were 7 feet or less above floors or platforms were not enclosed," thus exposing employees to a hazard.

The company was also cited on Nov. 18, 2016, and March 7, 2017, for the same violation.

Employees told OSHA inspectors that wood hits the chain on the moulder outfeed deck and knocks it off the track "up to 10 times in a week," the report said. "When this occurs, the employees are instructed by the lead man and operations manager to hit the emergency cable and emergency stop button to first stop the chain. Once the chain has stopped, then the employees can reach with their hands to place the chain back onto the track, and they are not required" to lock out and tag out, as the law requires. The chain is too long because a previous employee repaired the chain with full links instead of half links. The current maintenance manager is trying to repair the chains, the report said.

The injured employee didn't hit the emergency stop button first. Instead, he tried to toss the chain back on the track while it was still running.

When his hand got pulled into the machine, other workers called for help, and someone immediately called 911. The head grinder "cut the piece of metal that was acting as a guard for the sprocket," freeing the man's hand.

The report says a moving sprocket on the moulder outfeed deck wasn't properly guarded. That was because the chain was removed to free the injured man's hand. That exposed the sprocket until Oct. 7. When the OSHA inspector said the sprocket was required to be guarded, the maintenance manager immediately fabricated a guard and installed it. This was also a repeat violation; the company was also cited March 7, 2017.

A fifth citation was for not providing training to make sure employees use the proper lockout and tag out procedures before adjusting chains. The company received a similar citation in 2017.

The final violation was not deemed serious. It had to do with producing documents from 2016 and 2017.

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