OSHA has cited GSI Group LLC, headquartered in Assumption, Ill., after a worker was killed at the company's Newton plant on June 7 while operating a laser cutting machine. According to a U.S. Labor Department press release, the manufacturer of grain dryer equipment was issued one willful and two serious safety violations for failing to have machine guarding in place.

"GSI could have avoided this tragedy had it been following the required OSHA safety standard," said OSHA Area Director Thomas Bielema in Peoria, Ill. "A worker should never lose his or her life because an employer fails to follow safety regulations. OSHA is committed to protecting employees in the workplace."

OSHA's inspection resulted in one willful violation for the company's failure to have guards in place on its automatic laser cutting machine. The worker who died was struck within the "point of operation" zone of the machine. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

GSI Group also received two serious violations for failing to use lockout/tagout procedures while performing various operations on the laser cutting machine and failing to effectively close an electrical box opening. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

The Newton facility employs 215 workers. GSI Group LLC has manufacturing facilities in Assumption, Newton, Paris and Flora, Ill., as well as in six foreign countries. The company has been inspected, under various name changes, 17 times since 1976, and previously was cited for electrical hazards, machine guarding hazards and lockout/tagout violations. The OSHA inspection was the first of the Newton facility. The company faces fines of $78,500 for the current violations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its current citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.