|A Northwest Side Chicago manufacturer of industrial dryers is facing $171,000 in fines after an inspection last year revealed “multiple serious violations” at the Chicago Dryer Co., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced in April.
“Hundreds of thousands of workers suffer finger, hand or foot amputations and other serious injuries each year in the United States because dangerous machines with moving parts lack proper safety mechanisms,” read a release put out by the U.S. Department of Labor. “Despite these dangers, one Chicago-based manufacturer ignored safety requirements and put workers at risk for debilitating injuries.”
At Chicago Dryer, OSHA investigators found that operators were endangered by unguarded press brakes, earning the company a citation for a willful violation (defined as one that is committed with informed disregard for the law or indifference to employee safety).
“When a press brake lacks safety features, one slip and a worker can lose a hand,” Angeline Loftus, area director of OSHA’s Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines, explained in the release.
Twenty additional serious violations were cited as well, bringing the total to 21. Damaged crane slings (some carrying 3,000-pound cylinders) and industrial machines were still being used at Chicago Dryer, railings were not installed on open stairs, exit routes were blocked and exit doors were locked, investigators reported. Agency inspectors also found that there were electrical safety hazards and training concerns.
Workplace injuries of varying severity are perhaps surprisingly common in the United States, with 3,007,300 reported in 2013, the year before the inspection at Chicago Dryer took place. OSHA violations are considered “serious” if serious physical harm or death could occur due to a hazard that an employer either knew about, or should have known about.
The OSHA inspection of Chicago Dryer was carried out after an employee filed a complaint. OSHA is the agency tasked with enforcing workplace safety laws pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and other legislation; workers are encouraged to contact OSHA if they feel that any of their working conditions are unsafe.
As of press time, Chicago Dryer had not publicly responded to the citations.