Cutting of fingertips leads to lawsuit against door manufacturer

2006-11-28T00:00:00Z Cutting of fingertips leads to lawsuit against door manufacturerBy Becky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 28, 2006 12:00 am  • 

The state worker-safety commission has fined a Rita Ranch-area door manufacturer $26,500, accusing the company of unsafe practices that led to two workers cutting their fingertips off in separate accidents.

The fine from the Industrial Commission of Arizona came Nov. 2, half a year after the accidents at Architectural Traditions, 9280 E. Old Vail Road. The company contested the original fine of $31,750 during an informal conference, and the state reduced it 16 percent to about $26,500.

In April, a worker using a machine to shape wood cut off three fingertips when his hand went into the cutter, according to reports from the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health. He was using his fingers to remove scraps from the machine, instead of using available hand tools.

Another accident involving cut-off fingers happened around the same time on a different machine, said Architectural Traditions President Tom Liittschwager.

The company didn’t report the accidents to the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Rather, an employee who left the company made a complaint to the safety division. The company manufactures doors, windows and decorative hardware, and employs about 260 people.

During a week’s worth of inspections in June, inspectors found workers using machines without safety guards. Some workers also had not been trained to use machines safely, according to safety division reports.

Architectural Traditions has made big changes since the accidents, Liittschwager said. The company disciplined and retrained some workers and replaced some equipment.

“We started a formal training program the first of the year, and we were about halfway through it when these accidents happened,” he said. “We talk about safety every morning in the employee meetings.”

The problems happened after the turnover of some key positions, he said.

“One of the new managers just wasn’t aware of some of what their duties were, so they weren’t keeping an eye on things,” Liittschwager said.

The Industrial Commission issued two citations outlining 31 safety-rule violations, including the unsafe operation of machines and a lack of training. Workers also were not using procedures to make sure machines didn’t accidentally turn on while they were being repaired.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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