Safety Violations Affirmed After Amputations at Alabama Auto Plant

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By Lars-Eric Hedberg

Nov. 22 — An automobile parts manufacturer committed one repeat violation and five serious violations and faces $103,000 in penalties after an amputation accident at an Alabama facility, a federal appeals court affirmed ( Matsu Ala. Inc v. OSHRC , 2016 BL 387327, 11th Cir., No. 15-15676, unpublished 11/21/16 ).

Writing for a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Judge Frank M. Hull denied, in a Nov. 21 unpublished opinion, a petition for review filed by Matsu Alabama Inc.

On Sept. 30, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued three citations for safety violations after a mechanical power press caught a temporary worker resulting in amputation of his right arm above his wrist and three fingers on his left hand. The accident occurred at Matsu’s Huntsville plant.

The agency issued a citation for a repeat violation of 29 C.F.R. 1910.212(a)(1), for failing to install a guard to protect workers from the moving parts of the machine, and six serious violations for, among other things, lockout/tagout lapses, failure to train and allowing workers to change parts without supervision.

Administrative Law Judge's Decision

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Administrative Law Judge John B. Gatto vacated the alleged violation of the mechanical power presses standard but affirmed the remaining violations in a Sept. 29, 2015 decision. He also assessed $103,000 in penalties; OSHA had proposed $75,000. The commission declined to review the judge’s decision and it became a final order.

“After review of the record and with the benefit of oral argument, the Court finds no reversible error in the ALJ’s findings of fact or conclusions of law,” Circuit Judge Hull wrote.

John J. Coleman III and Ronald W. Flowers Jr. of Burr & Forman, LLP, Birmingham, Ala., participated in oral argument for Matsu.

Kathleen Felicia Borschow of the Department of Labor, Washington, argued for the commission.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lars-Eric Hedberg in Washington at lhedberg@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

The unpublished opinion of the Eleventh Circuit in Matsu Alabama Inc. v. OSHRC is available at http://src.bna.com/kfg.

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