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Waupaca Foundry Faces Hefty Fines After Two Workers Suffer Amputation Injuries

MARINETTE — Waupaca Foundry Inc. finds itself under the federal regulatory spotlight for the third time after OSHA cited the company for serious safety violations, imposing fines totaling $234,385. The penalties stem from two amputation injuries suffered by employees in the mill room within just 11 days of each other in April and May 2023.

The Incidents

The first incident occurred on April 27, 2023, when a 29-year-old employee experienced a fingertip amputation while attempting to clear jammed parts from a chain link conveyor belt. On May 8, 2023, a 20-year-old employee, with only six months on the job, suffered a similar fate when their hand became entangled between a part and a grinding wheel.

The Investigation

OSHA’s investigation revealed a disturbing pattern of inadequate machine guarding and a lack of energy control procedures, issues for which Waupaca Foundry had been previously cited in 2019 and 2021. 

The agency identified two repeat and six serious violations, including failing to train employees on how and when to apply energy isolation techniques, not implementing proper energy control steps during maintenance, damaged guardrails exposing workers to fall hazards, and violations of safe electrical work practices.

OSHA’s Stance

OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack stated, “Despite repeated employee injuries and OSHA citations, Waupaca Foundry continues to ignore federal and industry-recognized safety requirements to prevent employee exposure to amputation, electrical, and other hazards,” He further expressed that the company should take immediate action and implement procedures and training to ensure such incidents are not repeated.

Waupaca Foundry, one of the world’s largest independent iron foundries, now faces a choice to comply within 15 business days, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.

Lessons to Take Home

This incident serves as a stark reminder to safety managers and employers everywhere about the critical importance of robust safety protocols, frequent training updates, and proactive measures to prevent workplace accidents. The spotlight on Waupaca Foundry underscores the need for unwavering commitment to employee well-being, not only as a legal obligation but as a fundamental responsibility.

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