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Houston plastics company cited for safety violations

Near Herman A. Barnett Stadium in South Central Houston, a plastics company was recently cited for more than a dozen safety violations and ordered by the Department of Labor to pay $60,200 in fines.

The company makes plastic shopping bags and has about 33 workers; some of whom are exposed to amputation hazards, inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found. If not promptly addressed, the hazards could result in industrial accidents leaving workers with severe injuries, an OSHA report states.

The plastics manufacturer's facilities on South Wayside Drive were inspected in July of last year. At that time, 12 violations deemed serious by OSHA were found.

Among the violations, OSHA said, were failures to train workers properly to ensure that machines would not unexpectedly start up and cause injuries.

In addition, the firm was penalized for not having required guards on machines that have gears, fan blades, pulleys and other parts that can catch workers' limbs and cause amputations.

Also, stairs and platforms did not have required guard rails, the federal agency said.

The absence of those rails makes falls from heights more likely and more dangerous.

In addition to the amputation and falls hazards, OSHA inspectors also found exposed live electrical parts operating at 50 v or more. Obviously, these exposed parts pose shock and electrocution hazards.

OSHA's Houston South director said the company must "find and fix its hazards while also developing and maintaining an effective prevention program."

The plastics company will hopefully serve as an example for other manufacturers who allow unsafe working conditions to exist.

For those workers injured as a result of an employer's negligence, there are understandably going to be worries about how medical bills will be paid and lost wages replaced. A conversation with a personal injury attorney experienced in holding employers legally responsible for the damages they cause can help ease those worries.

Source: OSHA, "Houston, Texas, plastic bag manufacturer cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for exposing workers to amputation, electrical and noise hazards," Jan. 7, 2014

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