Safety Fines after Worker Crushed

Friday, February 6, 2015 @ 04:02 PM gHale

A 49-year-old machine operator ended up fatally crushed while reaching into an extrusion press to remove unprocessed aluminum parts because his employer, BRT Extrusions Inc., failed to ensure the machine’s power was fully off so that it would not turn on during maintenance, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

An OSHA investigation into the Aug. 6 incident resulted in citations for the Niles, Ohio, facility for six serious safety violations for exposing workers to dangerous machinery and other hazards and a $28,000 fine. BRT Extrusions specializes in the manufacture of aluminum extrusion components and employs 200 workers.

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“This death was preventable, BRT Extrusion should have properly trained their workers on lockout/tagout and ensured the extrusion press had adequate guarding,” said Brigitte Frank, OSHA’s acting area director in Cleveland. “Failure to protect employees from dangerous machinery all too often leads to catastrophic injury or death. These violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA.”

The investigation found the press was in automatic mode by a supervisor while the employees working the press took a lunch break.

The press did not end up “locked out” to prevent unintentional cycling of the operating parts. As the machine operator reached into the press, it began a new cycle. The operator ended up crushed to death.

As a result, OSHA cited BRT Extrusions for six serious violations. There was also a citation for a lack of machine guarding. Machine guards ensure workers do not suffer exposure to dangerous moving parts of machinery while working. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

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