An appellate court upheld a referral against a producer processor after a worker was seriously injured after being caught in a conveyor belt.
In Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division v. Stahlbush Island Farms Inc ., The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday agreed with an administrative judge that the belt should have been guarded but took the case for an increased sentence after to have determined that the judge exceeded his authority by assessing the danger that lay.
Stahlbush Island Farms, based in Corvallis, Oregon, processes and packs fruits and vegetables. While an employee was cleaning products from a raised bathtub where it was transported before it was steamed, he pressed down the underside of the conveyor belt with his foot when it suddenly began to move. His foot got stuck in the pulley, known as the "nip point", and he suffered serious injuries.
The Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration quoted Stahlbush Island Farms as having an unprotected pinch, but the processor claimed that the pinch point was in a guarded spot and it was impossible for the belt to be accidentally contacted. The agency assessed the new item as a medium risk and assessed a penalty based on this degree of probability.
A judge in the administrative court confirmed the quote and claimed that the new item was a danger. However, the judge found that the probability that the new point constituted a danger was low and reduced the penalty.
Both parties sought reconsideration of the judge's decision, and the Board of Appeal confirmed the citation but withdrew the decision to reconsider the sentence. . The court agreed with the judge that the belt really created a danger, arguing that just because employees would not come into contact with the belt regularly did not deny the possibility that a worker could do so through inattention, negligence or other behaviors. ]