Health and Safety Resource

​October-November 2017

 

Accident Report

Event: Amputation
Industry: Plastic injection molding
Worker: Assistant material handler (a temporary employee)


What happened?​

A worker’s finger was amputated while he was troubleshooting a plastics dryer that he had not de-energized.


How did it happen?

Kevin Patterson (not his real name), was a temporary employee who had worked the night shift as an assistant material handler for five months. Patterson and another employee were operating a plastics dryer that sorted and dried a thermoplastic elastomer – a rubber-like material that can be formed into parts – before it was sent to an injection molder.

The elastomer was stored in a 55-gallon drum; a hose attached to the drum was connected to a hopper above the injection molder and a pneumatic hose was connected from the hopper to a vacuum under the dryer. A device on the dryer – called a programmable logic controller, or PLC – monitored how much of the elastomer entered the hopper from the 55-gallon drum.

Both Patterson and the other employee noticed that the vacuum was not drawing enough elastomer from the drum. They thought the problem might be due to a clog somewhere in the equipment.

Patterson opened a compartment under the dryer and felt for an obstruction with his finger. However, he didn’t disconnect the pneumatic hose that triggered a piston under the dryer; the piston, which created the vacuum necessary to move the product into the hopper, suddenly sprung up and cut off the tip of his right index finger.

Point of injury

The other employee, who was standing nearby, helped wrap Patterson’s finger and pulled the severed tip out of the compartment. Emergency responders arrived shortly after the incident and took Patterson and the severed finger tip to a nearby hospital where he was admitted for treatment.

However, the company waited more than 24 hours before reporting the accident to Oregon OSHA. A project engineer with the company said that when the accident happened, he was not in the plant and was unaware that anything had occurred. To complicate matters, the company president did not know whether it was his company’s responsibility or the responsibility of the temporary employment agency that hired Patterson to report the overnight hospitalization.


Violations

  • 1910.147(c)(4)(ii)(B): The energy control procedures did not clearly and specifically outline the steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking, and securing the equipment to control hazardous energy.
  • 1910.147(c)(7)(i): The company did not provide training to ensure that employees understood the purpose of the energy control program and how to use the hazardous energy controls.
  • 437-001-0704(4): The company did not report the amputation and in-patient hospitalization to Oregon OSHA within 24 hours after the incident. Penalty: $3,500.
point of injury close up

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