Missouri employees are entitled to safe workplace conditions

caution-2-582000-m.jpgAs workers' compensation lawyers, we know that Missouri employees sometimes suffer injuries because their employers have failed to provide a safe working environment. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required "to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers."

Recently, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) announced that it had cited a Missouri glass plant - and imposed sizeable fines - after an employee lost a finger while on the job. According to the Insurance Journal, OSHA investigators cited Piramal Glass USA in Park Hills, Missouri, in connection with 21 safety and health violations related to the accident. The Administration has proposed fines that total $137,400.

OSHA officials say an employee at the Piramal plant lost a finger while performing maintenance on a machine that had not been isolated from its energy source. "An employer's failure to power off energy sources before conducting equipment maintenance is unacceptable," said Marcia Drumm, acting regional administrator for OSHA in Kansas City, in an official news release. "Amputation hazards are one of the leading causes of injuries in manufacturing, which companies must address to curb preventable injuries."

Following an investigation, the business was cited for several violations that jeopardized its employees' safety, including the following:

• Thirteen serious safety violations, including unguarded floor holes, missing railings, and the failure to provide e-stop devices on lathes, grinding, drilling and milling machines.
• Five serious health violations, including a lack of a noise monitoring program, failing to ensure that employees used hearing protection equipment, failing to provide personal protective equipment and barrier guards for their employees, and failing to maintain clean, dry floors in areas where employees work.
• Two other-than-serious violations for failing to identify machinery on audit reports and failing to inspect fire extinguishers.
• One repeat violation for improperly mounting metallic receptacle boxes to a firm surface. Piramal was previously cited for the same violation in October 2010.

If you have concerns about unsafe conditions in your workplace, you should be aware that you have certain rights under federal law:

• You are entitled to information and training related to potential workplace hazards, safety practices, and OSHA standards related to your work environment (and this information and training must be provided in a language you can understand).
• You can request an official workplace inspection from OSHA.
• You can view copies of any results from tests conducted to detect potentially hazardous conditions in your workplace.
• You can view records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
• You cannot be punished or discriminated against for exercising any or all of these rights.