OSHA Fines GA Plastic Recycler After Worker Fell from a Work Platform

Fall protection is something companies should never take for granted. OSHA will penalize manufacturers who ignore their mandated safety guidelines, which leaves employees at risk of injury or death. In Toccoa, GA, a plastic processing facility found itself in dire straits after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found them liable when a 56-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries and eventually died after falling 6 feet in December 2020. 

During the immediate inspection, OSHA found the company in violation to implement stairs and platforms with guardrails to prevent falls that meet federal safety standards. If that wasn’t bad enough, OSHA also discovered a total of seven other violations where employees are at risk of amputation hazards when performing maintenance and service activities near their machines and failure to train them about protection against injury or electrical shock.

OSHA fined the company GA-based Scrap Masters, Inc. — a company that recycles automobile gas tanks made out of plastic — $164,000 for eight serious and five repeat violations in its June 17th decision. According to the OSHA press release, they found Scrap Masters, Inc. in utter neglect of these standards:

  • Workers are exposed to high-temperature threats when they mount and label fire extinguishers. There was no training program for the extinguishers, but the employer also neglected to teach their employees about the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Make repairs to powered industrial trucks and make sure that personnel is wearing seatbelts when using forklifts.
  • Neglect in safe work practices when using industrial vehicles without providing an in-depth training program that includes both practice sessions or evaluations of their job performance.
  • Failure to create and implement procedures tailored to personnel when conducting service and maintenance on equipment exposing them to amputation dangers.
  • Prevent employees from being exposed to higher occupational noise levels than the maximum permitted time-weighted average level.

Since 2005, OSHA has evaluated Scrap Masters, Inc. five times, with four of the inspections taking place at the company’s Toccoa plant. All four inspections led to a total of three violations being issued. Following confirmation of these citations, the company gets 15 business days to comply with the regulations, challenge the findings before an independent panel, or seek an informal discussion with an OSHA area director.

The incident above is another glaring example of why industrial facilities and business establishments should not take fall protection guidelines lightly. Workers should always be safe while on work platforms or stairs to avoid any injury. Guardrails and handrails will keep them from falling as well in case of a slip-up, so having these installed by professionals is a must! If businesses fail to implement safety measures, it might lead to fatal injury or even death. Adhering to essential safety measures can be the difference between a terrible event and your workers returning to their families unharmed.