A Hubbard metal packaging company was fined more than $500,000 on Monday for ignoring inspectors citations for failing to install safety equipment on machines because the safeguards slowed production.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container $589,000 on Monday for 11 safety violations, including several violations in which the company failed to remedy citations found during a 2009 inspection, according to OSHA documents.
OSHA inspectors determined the company “willfully” failed to install or removed machine guards for two types of equipment that could cause a worker to be amputated without the safeguards because the equipment “slowed material positioning and product output,” OSHA said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container, based in Broomfield, Colo., said in an emailed statement they are reviewing OSHA’s citations.
“Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container Inc. disagrees strongly with the OSHA citation and characterizations in its press statement regarding conditions at our Hubbard, OH paint and general line plant,” spokeswoman Renee Robinson wrote. “We intend to resolve our disagreements through the regulatory process and accordingly cannot comment further, except to note we take this issue very seriously and have begun a review of OSHA’s citation and the safety processes we have in place. We will take whatever measures that are appropriate at the end of this review to ensure that we are continuing to maintain a safe environment for our employees.”
The company produces metal containers for the food, beverage and chemical industry, according to its website. OSHA said the company employs about 12,000 worldwide and has 31 production plants in the U.S., including the Hubbard plant on Myron Street that employs 57 workers.
The company has 15 days to pay the fine or issue a notice they will contest the violations. They also must show OSHA within 25 days what steps they made to correct the violations.
OSHA placed Ball in their Severe Violator Enforcement Program, meaning OSHA will target them for follow-up inspections. OSHA said the status allows them to inspect any of Ball’s facilities if inspectors believe similar violations are occurring there.
The violations say during an Oct. 17 inspection, OSHA workers found no machine guarding over six blades of slitter machines, which puts a workers hands about three inches from a blade. Another citation said Ball failed to put guarding equipment over nip points and rotating parts on feed tables that could also cause amputation.
“Lack of machine guarding exposes operators to amputation hazards of the hands and fingers, which may enter the danger zone during machine operation,” OSHA said in a statement.
The company also failed to provide fire extinguisher training to employees and exposed workers on a lift to falls of about 10 feet because the platform had open sides.
OSHA claimed in a 2009 inspection the company agreed to put safeguards on the equipment but never did.