The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleges General Aluminum Mfg. Company allowed employees to bypass guarding mechanisms designed to protect employees from the barrier door closing on them and that a malfunction in the door’s optic control existed prior to the deadly incident. The worker was loading a part info the machine when the barrier door closed on his head.
In addition, OSHA’s investigation identified problems with machine guarding and a lack of protective procedures – commonly known as lockout/tagout – throughout the facility. OSHA claims that General Aluminum Mfg. Company was aware of these problems and failed to address them adequately.
The company also lacked effective process safety management procedures and failed to protect employees from burn and explosion hazards caused by pooled water on the floor, provide personnel with appropriate protective equipment, train workers adequately about hazards and safety procedures, record employee training and develop emergency action plans.
OSHA issued four repeat, 18 willful and 16 serious safety and health violations and placed the company in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program following the fatality inspection and two others opened from employee complaints that inspectors received at the automotive casting plant.
“General Aluminum’s failure to learn from recent incidents, and follow industry standards and their own company policies created unnecessary and avoidable hazards in its facility,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “A worker lost his life because the company put the value of production speed before the safety of their employees. OSHA will continue to hold bad actors accountable and emphasize the importance of complying with safety and health requirements that can save lives.”
General Aluminum management signed formal settlement agreements previously to resolve OSHA citations for machine guarding and lockout/tagout violations found during inspections conducted between 2015 and 2017, and hired a third party consultant to conduct comprehensive machine guarding and lockout/tagout audits between 2017 and 2019. The audits identified specific machine guarding and lockout/tagout program deficiencies and provided recommendations that the company failed to fully implement.
“After conducting repeated inspections at the plant and receiving formal assurances that safety procedures would be implemented, the company’s failure to do so is unacceptable. Employers are legally responsible for keeping workers safe on the job,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago.
Founded in 1943, General Aluminum Mfg. Company produces engineered automotive castings. The company employs about 1,200 workers nationwide and 220 employees at the Ravenna/Rootstown location. Owned by Park Ohio Holdings Corp. in Cleveland, the company also has locations in Conneaut and Wapakoneta, Ohio, and in Freemont and Huntington, Indiana.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.
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