IN TH FIRST: Manchester company faces $140,000 in fines for alleged safety violations; 2 employees lost fingers in accidents

MANCHESTER, Iowa — A Manchester plant faces more than $140,000 in fines after inspections last year found several safety violations, including following two incidents where employees lost fingers.

The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations against Stryten Manufacturing include a total of $142,964 in penalties. The company produces stored energy solutions such as battery technologies.

Stryten Manufacturing is contesting the citations, according to Iowa Workforce Development officials, who provided the Telegraph Herald with copies of the citations this week.

Officials with Stryten Manufacturing did not return requests for comment Thursday.

The plant faces six citations stemming from inspections conducted in July and October, according to the citation documents.

Several of the safety violations involve machines with unclear instructions of how to properly shut down the equipment, which could “result in employees using a procedure that does not achieve an effective level of protection,” according to the documents.

Other safety violations refer to machines where gears, rollers or other moving parts are not properly guarded, exposing employees to “pinch-point hazards” or “crush and amputation hazards.” In two cases, the documents state, employees lost fingers while operating machines.

The first incident occurred in July, when an employee was “attempting to rethread material” on a machine.

“The (machine) started up with the employee’s finger within the rollers, leading to an amputation of their right middle finger,” documents state.

In September, an employee using a different machine was adjusting a screw when “a pivot arm came down on the employee’s left middle finger, resulting in an amputation,” according to the documents.

Citations from both inspections note that Stryten Manufacturing previously was cited for violating an occupational safety and health standard relating to improper machine guarding, making these citations a repeat offense. The final order in the previous citation was affirmed in March 2020.

Three of the six violations were required to be abated by Thursday, while two must be abated by April 6 and one was corrected during the inspection.

Russell Perry, Iowa OSHA administrator, told the Telegraph Herald that once a business contests a citation, the case is passed to OSHA’s legal staff, who work with the company’s legal representation to reach a resolution.

“Sometimes, the attorney will then come to me and say, ‘(The business) is willing to do this or this (to settle the case)’” he said. “ … If that doesn’t work, it could go to an administrative law judge here in Iowa and then through an administrative court proceeding.”