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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Injury Caused by Defeated Machine Guard Results in OSHA Fine of $159,522

An employee working at Crystal Finishing Systems Inc.’s aluminum extrusion facility in Weston was hospitalized with serious injuries after being struck by a puller machine while trying to unjam a piece of aluminum.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the Dec. 21, 2021, incident and determined 6-foot chain-link safety guards were not affixed around the 8-inch extrusion press line to prevent workers from coming in contact with the puller. Additionally, the press line was not locked out to prevent unintentional machine movement during service and maintenance, and the employer failed to train workers on machine safety procedures.

OSHA cited Crystal Finishing for one serious and two repeated violations and proposed penalties of $159,522. The company was cited for similar machine safety violations eight times between 2012 and 2019.

In New Jersey, where a machine guard has been defeated or disengaged by an employer, a civil action for an intentional tort can be brought directly against the employer. This action is in addition to a workers' compensation claim. "Where an employer altered the original design of an industrial machine and failed to warn the employee of sudden start-up capabilities or the fact that the safety interlock switches had been removed, the employer was not insulated by the exclusivity provision of the workers' compensation action from an intentional tort claim. Mull v. Zeta Consumer Products, 176 N.J. 385, 823 A.2d 782 (2003)." Gelman, Jon L, Workers’ Compensation Law, 38 NJPRAC 1.7 (Thomson-Reuters 2022). 

“Machine guards are designed to protect workers from suffering serious injuries, but they are only effective when used properly,” said OSHA’s Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton. “OSHA will hold this company and others accountable for failing to comply with safety and health regulations put in place to prevent worker injuries.”

Based in Weston, Crystal Finishing Systems also operates facilities in Mosinee and River Falls and employs about 800 Wisconsin workers.

OSHA’s machine guarding and control of hazardous energy webpages provide information on what employers must do to limit worker exposure to machine hazards.

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,   Injury Caused by Defeated Machine Guard Results in OSHA Fine of $159,522, Workers' Compensation Blog, April 13, 2022),

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

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Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" Thomson-Reuters