Davis Tool & Die: Company Says Electrocution Was Victim's Error As Feds Issue Citation, Fines

Categories: News

tool-die-file.jpg
via
A tool and die maker.
The U.S. Department of Labor has cited a Fenton-based company called Davis Tool & Die for seventeen safety violations -- after a maintenance worker was electrocuted and killed in March.

"Allowing maintenance workers to service energized equipment without taking required safety precautions and providing necessary personal protective equipment is inexcusable," Bill McDonald, Occupational Safety and Health Administration's St. Louis area director, says in a statement. "In this incident, such disregard had fatal consequences."

But the attorney for the tool and die company, in a statement to Daily RFT, refutes OSHA's citations and has a different explanation for the fatality: It was a result of the worker's "human error."

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In its citation released yesterday, full document on view below, OSHA says that Davis Tool & Die is guilty of a "repeat safety violation," as a result of failing to have "point of operation guards" on three CNC milling missions. OSHA, officials say, had previously cited Polar Bluff Tool & Die, which has the same owners, with this violation.

Nine "serious safety violations" relate directly to the electrocution, OSHA says.

davis-tool-die-logo.jpg
via davistool.com
Company logo.

The fatal accident occurred when the worker came into contact with "exposed energized parts" while examining malfunctioning heating components.

Violations, OSHA says, include:

-failing to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment and insulated tools and provide them as necessary;
-modifying the oven wiring of heating elements from the manufacturer's design;
-lack of safety-related work practices and worker training in those concepts;
-failing to de-energize parts and verify de-energization prior to maintenance;
-failing to ensure worker qualifications for performed duties;
-and allowing conductive articles of jewelry or clothing to be worn near electrical components.

Seven more violations involve lack of machine guarding and an emergency eye-washing station, as well as failure to periodically test protective equipment and more.

In total, the proposed fine from the agency is $77,000. The company has fifteen business days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before an independent commission. (If it does not contest, it must by law remedy the cited conditions and pay the fine).

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via

The company, according its statement, does plan on contesting the citation.

Attorney Michael Flynn sent Daily RFT this statement on behalf of Davis, that says the business "deeply regrets and is saddened by the loss of the life of one of its valued employees. This employee was well liked and respected by all of his co-workers and was a personal friend of one of the Company's owners."

While the company is still reviewing the 28-page citation, based on its preliminary analysis, the statement says:

Davis Tool disagrees with many of the findings contained in the Citation and will definitely contest the Citation.

Based upon the Company's investigation, this unfortunate tragedy was apparently the result of human error on the employee's part while servicing a piece of high voltage equipment he was thoroughly familiar with, and about which he had knowledge of the associated hazards.

This fact was totally ignored by OSHA's investigation. OSHA has chosen instead, to characterize this loss of life as being entirely the result of alleged safety violations by Davis Tool $Die, a Company that has always focused on the well being and safety of its employees.

In other words, the company claims that the federal labor department is overlooking the fact the accident was the fault of the employee who died.

Here's the full news release from OSHA, followed by the attorney's statement and the official citation.

Davis Tool & Die cited after worker electrocuted at Fenton, Mo., facility;
US Labor Department's OSHA finds 17 violations during fatality investigation

FENTON, Mo. -- Davis Tool & Die has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 17 safety violations after a maintenance worker was electrocuted March 6 at the Fenton tool and die facility.

"Allowing maintenance workers to service energized equipment without taking required safety precautions and providing necessary personal protective equipment is inexcusable. In this incident, such disregard had fatal consequences," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. "Davis Tool & Die has a responsibility to protect workers from known hazards at its manufacturing facility. No worker should risk his life for a job."

A repeat safety violation involves failing to have point of operation guards on three CNC milling machines. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The same violation was cited in January 2012 at Poplar Bluff Tool & Die, under the same ownership.

Nine serious safety violations relate directly to the electrocution, which occurred when the maintenance worker came in contact with exposed energized parts while examining malfunctioning electrical heating components on the heat treat oven. Violations include failing to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment and insulated tools and provide them as necessary; modifying the oven wiring of heating elements from the manufacturer's design; lack of safety-related work practices and worker training in those concepts; failing to de-energize parts and verify de-energization prior to maintenance; failing to ensure worker qualifications for performed duties; and allowing conductive articles of jewelry or clothing to be worn near electrical components.

Seven additional safety violations involve lack of machine guarding and an emergency eyewashing station for workers exposed to corrosive materials, as well as procedures to control the use of hazardous energy. The company also failed to install electrical equipment properly, periodically test electrical protective equipment and evaluate forklift truck drivers at least once every three years. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Proposed fines total $77,000. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and notice of proposed penalties to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. If the company does not file or contest within that period, it must abate the cited conditions within the period ordered in the citations and pay the proposed penalties.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's St. Louis Area Office at 314-425-4249.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions exist for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

From the company:

Davis Tool And Die Co. Press Statement

The full citation:

Davis Tool And Die Complaint

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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