After an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a steel processing facility in Illinois faces proposed penalties of more than $53,000. Several citations for safety and health violations were also issued. As is common after fatal workplace accidents, the federal safety agency investigated the cause of the horrific June death of a 50-year-old worker at the facility.
An incident report indicates that the employee was removing scrap metal pieces that were stuck in the scrap pit. He was positioned on a pneumatically operated platform when one of the pieces of scrap metal apparently damaged the pneumatic line. As a result, the platform automatically returned to its inactive vertical position. The worker fell nine feet into the pit where the working parts pulled him in and caused his death.
An OSHA spokesperson said the company failed to prioritize the safety of employees. The unguarded working machine parts along with other safety violations caused the avoidable accident that left the worker's family, co-workers and friends to suffer the tragic loss. Other safety violations that might have contributed to the worker's death include the lack of lockout/tagout devices to prevent unanticipated machine activation, lack of guardrails on the 9-foot high platform and more.
The Illinois workers' compensation insurance system provided financial assistance to the surviving loved ones of employees who died in fatal workplace accidents. To ease the financial burden that likely followed the tragedy, they may file death benefits claims with the program. Along with coverage of end-of-life expenses, they may receive a financial package to that will make up for a percentage of lost income.
Source: workerscompensation.com, "50-Year-Old Dies After Being Pulled Into Scrap Metal Baller", Oct. 28, 2016