Film manufacturer Brentwood Plastics Inc.'s failure to employ proper safeguards contributed to the death last year of a worker who was crushed after he became caught in winding equipment, federal safety officials said Jan. 17.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's St. Louis office found that the company, based in Brentwood, Mo., did not have an adequate lockout/tagout program for maintenance work and did not provide machine guards on the winder.
``Managers were aware of a malfunctioning machine whose moving parts were being manually cleared by employees without locking out the source of power to the machine, as required by safety regulations,'' OSHA regional administrator Charles Adkins said in news release.
Brentwood officials declined to comment. They have 15 working days from the Jan. 15 citation to contest OSHA's fines.
OSHA issued 15 citations, including two willful violations, and proposed $109,000 in fines. A willful violation is the agency's most serious, and is issued when regulators believe a company acted with ``intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to'' federal laws.
OSHA officials said a machine operator at the company was caught between a rotating winder arm and an equipment frame. Local news reports at the time said firefighters freed the victim, Serif Selimanovic, from the machine but he died at a local hospital.
OSHA also cited Brentwood for ``significant deficiencies'' in its lockout program, including inadequate training procedures and internal inspections. OSHA also cited the company for inadequate forklift training and guarding of exposed electrical components.
The agency's St. Louis office, which covers Brentwood, had targeted the plastics industry as part of a program to reduce similar workplace deaths. The agency began the program in 1996, after it found there were six deaths between 1989 and 1995 at area plastics and rubber processing firms included within Standard Industrial Classification code 30.
Five of those deaths were because workers became caught in machines, he said.
From 1996-99, local OSHA officials stepped up inspections and worked with companies to improve safety, said Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. The St. Louis office reports to Adkins.
Adkins said OSHA considers the program a success - only one worker died in an industrial accident in the industry in that three-year period. He said he did not have data on fatalities since then or on broader workplace injury rates within the industry in the St. Louis area.
He said he did not know if Brentwood is part of that program.