Safety Fines after Worker Crushed

Friday, July 31, 2015 @ 05:07 PM gHale

Proper safety guards would have stopped a 1,500-pound steel roller before it crushed and killed a 59-year-old maintenance worker at D.R. Diedrich & Co. Ltd., said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

D.R. Diedrich & Co. Ltd., a Milwaukee leather manufacturer, failed to use devices that would have stopped the roller on a tanning machine from moving during service and maintenance. The worker was inspecting the machine’s bearing when the tragedy occurred Feb. 1. The 13-year company veteran suffered fatal head and neck injuries as a result.

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D.R. Diedrich makes tanned leather for use in the automotive, furniture and shoe industries. The company has 130 employees.

OSHA cited the company on July 30 for one willful and 18 serious safety violations and it is now facing a fine of $169,495. The agency cited a willful violation because D.R. Diedrich failed to prevent unintentional operation of machines during service and maintenance.

“Too often, we cite companies that ignore machine hazards in the hope that a tragic death like this one can be avoided,” said Christine Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “Machine hazards are among the most frequently cited by OSHA. Manufacturer-installed guards and industry-standard locking devices protect workers from operating machinery. Yet, each year thousands of workers are injured or killed because employers ignore machine hazards and do not train workers on safety procedures.”

Inspectors noted 19 serious safety violations at the Milwaukee facility, including:
• Lack of machine guards
• Not training workers on machine safety procedures or evaluating procedures annually
• Absence of electrical safety work practices, including exposing workers to energized parts, and failing to provide barriers and protective clothing to prevent workers from contacting live electrical parts and improper wiring
• Failing to install standard railings to guard against falls of up to 5 feet from platforms and floor openings.
• Modifying forklifts without manufacturer permission
• Annual audiograms for workers exposed to an average of 85 decibels annually were delinquent
• Not evaluating and providing training for confined space hazards, such as chrome tanks
• Failing to comply with respiratory protection requirements