A worker lost 4 fingers because this South Mississippi company ignored rules, OSHA says

An employee at Heritage Plastics Inc. in Picayune lost four fingers in a mixing machine because the company failed to use a lockout device or properly train its workers, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration says.

OSHA is set to level $159,118 in penalties against the company for what a news release says was a “willful violation” of workplace safety rules.

The mixing machine unexpectedly started while the employee was removing material from the mixer, resulting in the loss of four fingers, the news release says. Heritage also was cited for failing to install machine guarding.

“Proper safety procedures, including the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented this employee’s serious injury,” OSHA’s Jackson Area Office Director, Courtney Bohannon, said in the news release. “Employers must take proactive steps to develop and implement energy control procedures to minimize risk to their employees.”

Heritage has 15 days to contest OSHA’s findings, or accept the penalties and pay. Heritage Plastics manufactures PVC conduit, fittings and pipe. According to its website, the company was founded in 1992 and acquired in 2013 by Atkore International, based in Illinois.

Heritage Plastics sent the Sun Herald a statement late Wednesday afternoon: “Heritage Plastics followed proper procedure after a serious employee injury in November 2018 at our Picayune, Mississippi, facility.

“The company acted promptly to notify and cooperate with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a review of the incident. Heritage Plastics intends to follow the Administrative Review process seeking relief from OSHA’s initial Notice of Violation findings.

“We believe in the importance of proper safety training, process and procedures. Heritage Plastics is committed to best practices and providing a safe working environment for our employees.”