Amsted Rail Co., a manufacturer of cast-steel freight components, faces $610,034 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after agency investigators found workers at its plant in Groveport, Ohio, were exposed to machine hazards and silica.

One plant worker was hospitalized after suffering severe injuries when he was caught in a machine, and at least four workers were exposed to excessive levels of silica, which can cause serious health issues.

"Companies must ensure their workers are trained in proper machine safety procedures and provided the necessary personal protective equipment to prevent injuries and illness on the job," said Dorothy Dougherty, deputy assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "Continuous monitoring of facilities and procedures are important components of an effective safety and health program."

On Jan. 3, 2017, a 60-year-old maintenance worker's leg was crushed after he was caught in a core baker machine while performing maintenance. OSHA's investigation revealed multiple instances of machine safety violations, including failing to lock out machinery to prevent movement during servicing.

A second inspection began on Feb. 22, 2017, after OSHA inspectors discovered workers were exposed to silica at amounts over the permissible exposure limit. Investigators documented four incidents of silica overexposure in the facility.

In total, the agency found six repeat, 19 serious and five other-than-serious safety and health violations during the two inspections. OSHA determined Amsted Rail failed to implement engineering controls to lower exposure to silica, affix locking devices to machine operating parts during maintenance, adequately guard machinery, implement a respiratory protection program, evaluate permit-required confined spaces, guard floor openings and shafts to prevent falls, and provide adequate personal protective equipment.

Amsted Rail has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its safety and health citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.