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Failure to maintain a safe workplace can be costly for all

A Michigan shipyard and boat fabricating facility is facing the potential of steep fines after an investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found 32 violations of workplace health and safety standards. Five of those were repeat violations. The fines could total nearly $150,000.

The federal agency became involved after a referral by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. MIOSHA had been investigating the shipyard after a workplace accident in which one of the employees suffered and amputation.

The director of the OSHA office in Lansing was very critical of the shipyard's safety record in a statement. He pointed out that in most instances when a worker has sustained a serious injury such as an amputation, the employer acts very diligently to correct the situation. Most employers will take whatever steps are necessary to address risk and avoid any additional injuries to its workers. In this case however, which the director described as "particularly egregious" the employer demonstrated a complete lack of commitment to ensuring worker safety.

One of the repeat violations in this case was the failure to provide a guard on a vertical bandsaw that would protect employees from inadvertent contact with the moving saw blade.

It is every employer's duty to ensure that their employee's work environment is free from unreasonable risks of injury. This is of course a responsibility that the employer must undertake before the very first employee even walks through the door, but it is also certainly a responsibility to correct those things which are not merely potentially dangerous but have in fact already caused serious injury to one of its workers.

Source: Daily Press, "Basic Marine faces fine," Jan. 13, 2012

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