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Several workers lose fingers due to unsafe work conditions

A Pennsylvania company was investigated for serious safety violations after several of its employees injured their fingers or had them amputated as a result of workplace accidents. In June 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated a review of Olympia Chimney Supply Inc. after receiving a string of similar safety complaints. The review was reportedly initiated under OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Amputations.

OSHA found that over the past few years, workers at the Scranton facility had suffered from 20 different injuries. The reported injuries included lacerations, crushed fingers, pinched fingers, fingertip amputations and several whole finger amputations. According to OSHA inspectors, the company was not doing its part to prevent workplace injuries.

When OSHA inspectors visited the facility, they found that several of the machines that were being used did not have proper safety guards. There were also problems with the company's safety program that was supposed to prevent machines from starting up during maintenance. Ultimately, OSHA issued 14 violations, including 13 serious violations, to the company and fined it $49,000. OSHA issues serious violations to companies when they believe that there is a high chance of a worker being killed or seriously injured by a known workplace hazard.

A worker who has been injured on the job is entitled to claim workers' compensation insurance whether or not the injury was caused by employer negligence. However, a worker who was injured as a direct result of the negligence of a non-employer third party may in some cases bring a separate action against the responsible party. An attorney may be able to help clients in these types of situations determine the liable parties and pursue the maximum amount of compensation for their injuries.

Source: EHS Today, "Forget the Two Front Teeth: All Employees at Olympia Chimney Supply Want for Christmas Are Their Fingers", Sandy Smith, December 22, 2014

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