Cleaning Products Manufacturer Fined $194K After Worker Severs Fingertip

The Green Bay company violated federal regulations for the control of hazardous energy.

February 13, 2024

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), an investigation by its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has concluded that Green Bay household cleaning products manufacturer Tufco LP violated federal regulations for the control of hazardous energy during service and maintenance tasks, which resulted in the severing of a worker’s fingertip.

During the investigation, OSHA found that a Tufco employee had severed a fingertip while clearing a pump’s outfeed on August 18, 2023. The employee was part of an overnight crew that was running and maintaining melt tanks used to create scented laundry beads. Investigators discovered that the product lines were not locked out or shut down, exposing the worker to the pumps’ point of operation.

OSHA determined that Tufco lacked written lockout/tagout procedures that would have prevented employees from contact with moving machine parts. The company also failed to retrain employees on such procedures when they were reassigned to a new production area. OSHA noted, as well, a lack of machine guarding and that the plant failed to develop and implement a respiratory protection program.

This wasn’t the first time Tufco committed serious safety violations of this type. OSHA previously cited the company for exposing workers to similar machine hazards in 2019 and 2021. The company also failed to report the amputation injury, as required by OSHA.

“Tufco LP expanded their capabilities with new products and machines but failed to assess and mitigate potential hazards prior to allowing employees to run the new product lines,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA area director in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Each year, hundreds of workers suffer injuries because their employers expose them to machine operating parts and fail to train them in safety procedures. Employers should make the health and safety of workers a core value in their workplaces.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

If your cleaning crews are servicing manufacturing areas with machinery that can emit hazardous energy, then you, too, need to implement lockout/tagout procedures to help workers protect themselves against the accidental release of energy. For more information, check out Lock in Safety.

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