US Department of Labor investigation cites Waupaca Foundry after 2 workers suffer amputation injuries in 11 days, fines company $234K
MARINETTE, WI – Federal investigations into how two employees in the mill room at a Wisconsin foundry suffered amputation injuries within 11 days of one another in April and May 2023 found the Marinette company again violated federal regulations for control of hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration at Waupaca Foundry Inc. determined a 29-year-old employee suffered a fingertip amputation on April 27, 2023, when their hand was dragged into the pinch point between a chain link conveyor belt and discharge chute as they removed jammed parts. On May 8, 2023, the hand of a 20-year-old employee — on the job about six months — was caught between a part and the stand grinding wheel, which also led to a fingertip amputation.
The employees were using grinders to trim parts during the casting process and moving them through the process by conveyors when the incidents occurred.
In both instances, OSHA inspectors discovered Waupaca Foundry lacked adequate machine guarding and energy control procedures that would have prevented employees from making contact with moving machine parts. The agency cited the company in 2019 and 2021 for exposing workers to similar hazards.
The agency cited the foundry’s operator for two repeat and six serious violations and assessed $234,385 in proposed penalties, after the two injury inspections and a follow-up OSHA inspection at the foundry.
“Despite repeated employee injuries and OSHA citations, Waupaca Foundry continues to ignore federal and industry-recognized safety requirements to prevent employee exposure to amputation, electrical and other hazards,” explained OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin. “The foundry must implement procedures and training immediately to protect its employees from these preventable injuries.”
Specifically, OSHA inspectors found the foundry failed to verify and test its energy control procedures periodically and train workers on using these procedures during machine servicing and maintenance. The agency also cited Waupaca Foundry for having damaged guardrails that exposed workers to fall hazards and for several violations of safe electrical work practices, including using flexible cords instead of permanent wiring and failing to inspect cords before using them.
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.