A Kansas plastics processor faces $292,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a fatal accident that saw an employee pulled into machinery that had duct tape over its safety controls.
OSHA said in a Jan. 26 announcement that an employee of Great Lakes Polymer Technologies LLC in Kingman, Kan., died after trying to clear jams from a bagging machine and becoming entangled in rotating equipment.
OSHA said its investigators who responded to the Aug. 4 fatality "found that duct tape over the safety interlock prevented the machine from shutting down. The victim was caught by the machine and pulled into its rotating bars."
The agency said it was charging the company, which also operates as Fabpro Polymers, with violating machine guarding standards, not using lockout and tag-out procedures, not training workers on those procedures and exposing workers to slip and fall hazards from plastic particles and fluid leaks.
"Proper machine safety procedures and training could have prevented this worker from losing his life," said Todd Underwood, OSHA area director in Wichita, Kan. "The manufacturing industry knows well that moving machine parts can be deadly, especially when proper guards are not used and safety procedures are ignored."
The company did not respond to a request for comment. It has 15 days from receiving the OSHA citation to respond to the agency.
The company makes synthetic fibers as an additive for concrete, as well as manufacturing polypropylene twine and ropes. It is a subsidiary of construction chemicals firm MBCC Group in Mannheim, Germany.
The detailed OSHA complaint said the bagging machine had a metal grate that was supposed to shut the machine off when employees opened the grate to access the equipment. The grate was connected to an interlock switch to automatically trigger a shut-off, OSHA said.
"The machine failed to shut off because the interlock was bypassed with duct tape so that when the guard was opened the agitator continued to rotate," the agency said.
OSHA said it cited the company for a similar violation in 2019. An online database of OSHA cases said an employee had a finger amputated in that incident. The agency proposed $47,700 in fines, but the case was settled for $17,700.
In August 2022, the company told local media it had suffered a fatality on its production floor and had shut down operations for an investigation.