Alabama mill slapped with $2 million fine

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced $1,939,000 in proposed penalties for Phenix Lumber Co., a sawmill in Phenix City, Ala., for safety violations that include exposing employees to amputation and fall hazards. 

Prior to the June 14 citations, Phenix Lumber had been cited 77 times by OSHA for serious safety and health violations since 2007, according to the OSHA announcement.

OSHA began an inspection on Dec. 15, 2010, in response to a complaint that employees working in the planer mill were exposed to amputation hazards, while maintaining, cleaning and clearing jams on pieces of machinery that did not have their energy sources locked out to prevent their unexpected startup. Two months later, OSHA received a second complaint that an employee had suffered a partial finger amputation while clearing a piece of machinery that had not been locked out. At the opening of an inspection following the second complaint, the compliance officer learned of another employee who had just suffered a severe hand injury while working on unguarded machinery. 

Phenix Lumber had been cited numerous times during the past four years for allowing employees to work on unguarded machinery while it was operating, OSHA said in its announcement. Copies of the citations can be viewed by clicking here and here.

Phenix Lumber and principal John Dudley have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.