On June 7, 2022, a worker at Kewaunee Fabrications in Kewaunee, Wisconsin was using an Eriez XPL-15/9 to operate a lifting magnet at close range when a 1,254-pound counterweight fell from the magnet under the hook The fall crushed the employee’s leg.
The worker was hospitalized and the incident sparked an OSHA investigation. The company now faces fines of more than $250,000 for one willful and 11 serious safety violations.
OSHA found that the heavy manufacturing company’s exposure of workers to unattended machine operating points did not prevent workers from being in a hazardous area while straightening parts.
According to OSHA, Eriez magnets have metal buildup and pitting on contact surfaces that are not removed prior to use. OSHA identified several issues at Kewaunee, most of which stemmed from lifting magnet challenges.
For example, about two weeks after the accident, employees used a pair of battery-powered magnets to move metal parts, even though neither of them passed the separation force test.
According to OSHA, the company is taking the incident seriously, and safety representatives are documenting the issue and looking for solutions to ensure they remain compliant.
Robert Bonack, OSHA Regional Director in Appleton, Wisconsin, reminds manufacturers that they must continually review safety procedures and equipment to ensure all points of operation are protected, equipment is in safe working condition, and workers are trained to Hazard recognition training.
Kewaunee Fabrications manufactures aerial ladders and mounting plates for fire trucks. The company has 15 working days to comply, request an informal meeting or dispute the findings. One way to address the problem, among other things, is to make sure the magnets are checked against the manufacturer’s specifications before use, OSHA says.
The company has not yet responded to our request for comment.