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Citation in power shear accident vacated

power shear

An aerospace engineering company did not improperly guard a machine that crushed the finger of an operator, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission held Monday in a unanimous decision.

In Secretary of Labor v. Aerospace Testing Alliance, the full commission reversed an administrative law judge’s holding and the citation of $6,300.

In May 2016, an employee of the now-defunct Aerospace Testing Alliance had his finger crushed while operating a power shear in a metal shop at an Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Following the accident, a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector issued a serious citation for failing to properly guard the machine and proposed a penalty of $6,300.

The company appealed the citation, but an administrative law judge found that the Aerospace Testing violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act by exposing employees “to crushing/amputation hazards when guarding was not provided on the hold-down pistons.”

The company appealed to the OSHRC, which found that the administrative judge improperly gave conclusive weight to the testimony of the injured worker. Aerospace Testing did not dispute that the hold-down pistons presented crushing hazards, but said the guards were adequate, though they did not prevent workers from intentionally circumventing it. Three workers testified that the shear does not require the operator’s hands to approach the piston guards, nor require a worker to place his or her fingers underneath the guard.

Although the judge noted that the injured worker was credible because his demeanor was “calm and unflinching,” the commission found inconsistencies in his testimony and that it was contrary to the other three operators who testified that workers would need to remove their gloves in able to intentionally place their fingers below the guards.

As a result, the commission held that the U.S. Secretary of Labor failed to establish that the guards were noncompliant.






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