OSHA files provide insight into plastic factory deaths: crushed, pulled into a machine, electrocuted
Sometimes the deaths result in heavy OSHA fines and lawsuits.
For example, the OSHA review of the accident at ABC Polymer in Helena, Ala., In August 2017, concluded in August 2019 with a fine of $ 155,000 for the company. This included $ 103,000 for a “deliberate” violation of machine safety standards and minor fines for violating lockout and tag-out rules, OSHA records show.
In this incident, the employee, Catalina Estillado, was working on an extrusion line when, according to OSHA records, she was pulled into the machine and squeezed between the webbing and pulleys.
A lawsuit filed by her husband, Crescencio Pablo, says Estillado is cutting what appears to be broken filament that was wrapped on the rollers when she became tangled.
Pablo’s lawsuit stated that the machine was in an “unreasonably dangerous condition” due to the lack of an electronic barrier guard attached to the machine that would automatically decelerate the rollers from the 70 feet per minute they were operating at.
Pablo’s attorney said Estillado, who was also identified as Eva Saenz in court records, had completed her training.
“She cut a sleeve as she was taught,” said William Traylor of Yearout & Traylor PC in Birmingham, Ala. “The machine ran at production speed. If the guard had been installed and serviced as planned, death would not have been [occurred]. “
A trial is scheduled for late August in the Alabama State Court in Birmingham.
The structure of the legal process is a little complex.
Pablo originally sued the company and two executives, but ABC Polymer was dismissed from the lawsuit because workers’ compensation laws can grant companies broad immunity. That left the case to take action against the managers.
ABC Polymer and the company’s lawyers and manager did not respond to a request for comment, but in June court files, the two managers asked a judge to dismiss the case. They argued that the lawsuit, on their part, did not show any “willful conduct” that contributed to the accident.
They said they had not removed any safety devices or received any information about such barrier protection when ABC bought the equipment used in Europe and moved it to a factory in Mexico before finally shipping it to Helena.
The device was originally manufactured by the Italian company Faré SpA.
“The evidence shows that [defendants] When ABC bought the Faré equipment, they were not provided with such a device or information, “it says in its submission.
They told the court that they had trained staff in safety procedures and installed other safety equipment on the machine.
ABC managers said staff had been trained to find a colleague to press the machine’s emergency stop button while removing broken material, but they said Estillado did not.
“No employee has been working on the since the accident [machine]“, They informed the court. “Before the accident, there were no catastrophic injuries from working on the [machine]. “
But Traylor said they had a testimony from Faré that the machine was originally made with an interlocked guard.
In a 2018 press release, when OSHA first announced its investigations and fines against ABC Polymer, the agency said it was proposing a “deliberate” violation of the company for failing to properly provide machinery protection from hazards and amputations.
“This company’s failure to install machinery protection equipment has resulted in an avoidable tragedy,” OSHA said at the time.