A worker at Styro Tek Inc. of Delano, Calif., died Oct. 13, apparently after getting caught in a conveyor belt on a foam molding machine.
Police investigating the accident said Raul Marquez Jr., 22, of Richgrove, Calif., died of massive head injuries when the press crushed him, according to a story in the Fresno Bee newspaper.
The plant's general manager, Dale Arthur, said there were no witnesses to the incident, which happened about 4:30 a.m.
``It appears he got caught in a conveyor that runs under the machine,'' Arthur said Oct. 22 by telephone. ``He may have tried to get up and got caught in the machine and killed. The other workers found him at the end of the conveyor line.''
California's state occupational safety and health agency is investigating the accident, along with the Tulare County Sheriff's Department and Styro Tek's insurance company, Arthur said.
``They all looked at the machine and said the safety gates were working properly,'' Arthur said. ``We don't know why [Marquez] got under there. He may have slipped and fell. There is no work that is ever done there.''
Styro Tek manufactures expanded polystyrene foam boxes for the grape industry. The machines Styro Tek uses are custom manufactured by a small company in Los Angeles, Arthur said.
Marquez, who leaves behind a wife and three children, is the first worker to be killed at the plant since it opened in 1973, Arthur said.
Cal-OSHA cited the company for a minor violation in July after a worker was scalded by hot water.
The penalty for the citation was $300, but the case was marked as still open and subject to change on the Web site operated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The scalded worker now is back at work, Arthur said.
The plant was closed for the rest of the week after Marquez's death, Arthur said, and the company called in grief counselors to help employees.
``The midnight crew was hardest hit,'' Arthur said, noting the company has 12 workers for each of three daily shifts.
Production resumed Oct. 19, Arthur said.