STREETSBORO, OHIO — A forklift at Step2 Co.'s Streetsboro plant crushed a worker against a steel beam July 10.
Emergency personnel pronounced Debbie Ann Springer, 41, of Ravenna, Ohio, dead after they worked almost an hour to free her from the crash and tried to revive her, according to Streetsboro police.
No other workers witnessed the crash, but police pieced together a possible scenario:
Springer was operating the forklift in the rotomolder's warehouse area when some of its cargo fell.
She got off the front of forklift to adjust the load, but did not set the vehicle's brake.
The vehicle moved forward, pinning Springer upside down between the beam and a bar on the front of the forklift.
The company was awaiting results from several investigations before taking any action regarding its safety procedures.
``We will not point fingers at anybody until we get more information,'' Wayne Stock, executive vice president, said in a July 16 telephone interview.
Springer was a licensed forklift operator with four years' experience at the plant, said company spokeswoman Dotti Foltz.
A police report quoted another worker as saying Springer had two weeks of experience operating forklifts at that particular section of the plant.
``This is the first fatal accident we've had here, or in our whole careers,'' Stock said. ``We feel so bad about it.''
Stock is a veteran of rotomolding. He was one of the former Little Tikes Inc. executives who started Step2 in 1991. Step2 and Little Tikes make similar products, including toys, lawn and garden items and containers.
The Cleveland office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident, as is a private safety engineering firm, Stock said. OSHA will not comment on the case until the probe is complete.
OSHA records available on the World Wide Web indicate inspectors fined Step2 a total of $7,500 after unannounced visits to the Streetsboro plant Dec. 10. None of the 10 ``serious'' and eight lesser violations of safety regulations relate to warehouse forklift operations, Stock said, adding that those issues have been fixed and the fines paid.
An unspecified worker complaint prompted an OSHA inspection in May 1997, but the agency took no action against the company.
After Springer died, Step2 officials closed the plant for the rest of the second shift and the entire next day, Foltz said.
Springer is survived by two daughters, her parents, a brother, two sisters and a fiance.
One daughter, Christy, is an assembler at Step2's nearby Twinsburg, Ohio, plant. Springer's fiance, Jeffrey Morris, is a rotomolding machine operator at the Streetsboro plant. He was at Springer's side as rescue workers tried to save her, police said.