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Gang-saw operator suffers fatal workplace injury

Lumberyards and sawmills are dangerous workplace environments, and employers in Illinois and other states have the responsibility to address all potential safety hazards. They must protect workers from the dangers posed by the massive machines such as gang saws that are part of the operations at these industrial facilities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently completed an investigation into a fatal workplace injury that claimed the life of an employee in another state.

The accident report indicates that a 56-year-old saw operator who was a 20-year employee at a lumberyard lost his life after suffering an on-the-job injury. Investigators found that the saw operator noticed that a pin on the feeding table of the gang saw was stuck in the wrong position. While he attempted to adjust it, his clothes caught on a rotating shaft's unguarded sprocket.

Trapped against the gang saw and unable to breathe properly, the employee lost consciousness and co-workers freed him and rushed him to a regional hospital. Sadly, he succumbed to his injuries later. OSHA investigators determined that this fatality was preventable. Reportedly, the gang saw lacked safeguards to protect workers from moving parts. Furthermore, the machine was not fitted with a lockout/tagout device to isolate electricity when adjustments are made.

Such disregard for employee safety is inexcusable, and although the surviving family members may pursue claims for financial relief, nothing can fill the void left by the death of a loved one. Whenever an Illinois worker dies after suffering a fatal workplace injury, the workers' compensation insurance system allows the remaining family members to file death benefits claims. These typically cover the costs of a funeral and burial along with a portion of lost wages.

Source:, "OSHA says Hankins Lumber liable for safety violations leading to fatality", Bill Esler, Nov. 22, 2016

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