A 49-year-old machine operator was 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, a procedure known as lockout/tagout. An OSHA investigation into the Aug. 6, 2014, incident resulted in citations for the Niles, Ohio, facility for six serious safety violations for exposing workers to dangerous machinery and other hazards.
"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."
Auto mode, crushed to death
The investigation found that the press had been placed in automatic mode by a supervisor while the employees working the press took a lunch break. The press was not "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 was crushed to death.
As a result, OSHA cited BRT Extrusions for six serious violations. A lack of machine guarding was also cited. Machine guards ensure workers are not exposed to dangerous parts 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.
OSHA proposed penalties of $28,000 for the company, which specializes in the manufacture of aluminum extrusion components and employs about 200 workers.