TRENTON, FL – On just his third week working for a Trenton manufacturer, a 21-year-old machine operator’s life changed forever. On Feb. 1, 2021, the operator suffered a partial hand amputation because the company allowed protective guards to be removed from a machine that cuts sheet metal for the roofing industry.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Blac Investments Inc. – operating as Tri County Metals – removed protective guards from the machine because the guards caused imperfections to newly manufactured roofing panels. OSHA cited the company for a willful violation for removing the guards and exposing workers to amputations hazards. The agency proposed $122,879 in penalties.

“Blac Investments’ management made a conscious decision to remove guards on three machines that exposed workers to dangerous metal shears,” said OSHA Area Office Director Michelle Gonzalez in Jacksonville, Florida. “They put profits over their employees’ safety and a young worker is permanently disabled.”

Headquartered in Trenton, Blac Investments Inc. manufactures commercial and residential metal-roofing materials at six other locations in Live Oak, Ocala, Tallahassee, Brooksville, Deland and Jacksonville.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.

Learn more about the hazards of mechanical motion and techniques for protecting workers.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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