Companies can get into trouble when the remove guarding and fail to put it back. But they can also find themselves facing OSHA fines if factory equipped guarding does not meet OSHA requirements.
Case in point, leading wood pallet recycler IFCO Systems has been in the process of changing the bandsaw guards on over 100 pallet dismantling machines since the beginning of 2010, but not the less was fined in Colorado. OSHA cited IFCO’s Henderson, Colorado facility with one repeat and five serious citations for improper machine guardings. A $50,000 penalty was issued for failure to provide adequate bandsaw guarding. Other infractions included lockout and noise. Total penalties amounted to $67,765. IFCO stressed that it had factory-installed guarding on the units that had not been modified.
The inspection was triggered under an OSHA program to target employers with high injury and illness rates. OSHA issued similar citations to IFCO locations in Smithville, Ohio, on July 12, 2006; Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 5, 2008; and Atlanta, Ga., on Oct. 8, 2010.
Mike Hachtman, former Senior Vice President Sales and Business Development for IFCO Systems, commented to About.com that his company has worked on the bandsaw guarding issue with OSHA since 2009, collaborating with the Columbus, Ohio OSHA office to develop a better guarding system. He stressed that all of IFCO’s bandsaws have guards, either have the factory installed guarding, or the modified guarding that has been retrofitted on machines over the past year. “The band saw pallet dismantling machines in question were fitted with guarding installed by the machine manufacturer,” he said.
Hachtman stressed that there have been no injuries associated with bandsaw usage at the Henderson facility for over the last 5 years. IFCO’s Colorado facility has scheduled an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director to begin the process of addressing these concerns.
“Band saw pallet dismantling machines are widely used and a valuable component in the pallet recycling industry,” Hachtman added. "IFCO has worked closely with OSHA and machine manufacturers to insure these machines are safe while also able to operate efficiently. While we will continue to work with OSHA we will also aggressively defend IFCO from the proposed citation. We will also continue our tireless effort to provide IFCO employees with the safest workplace possible.”
“It is a challenge for pallet recyclers to know what guarding is going to be acceptable,” Hachtman said. He cautioned pallet industry bandsaw owners that from their experience, factory supplied guarding may no longer be acceptable to OSHA, and that the 12” danger zone is no longer adequate.
There was also coverage of the bandsaw guarding issue by Chaille Brindley at Pallet Enterprise.
Updated October 2013