A North Jackson company is facing $175,000 in fines and was deemed a “severe violator” by safety inspectors on Thursday after an investigation into the accidental death of a 21-year-old employee in October.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied the fines Thursday against Canada-based Extrudex Aluminum after finding eight violations after the death of John Tomlin of Niles, who died Oct. 30 after a steel rack containing hot aluminum parts tipped over at the company’s oven facility and crushed him.
Another employee, Dallas Bright, 21, of Mecca, suffered second- and third-degree burns on most of his body from the aluminum parts. Both were relatively new employees.
OSHA reports said the two and another employee were pushing two hot metal racks stacked on top of each other that were loaded with between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of hot aluminum pieces through an oven a conveyor when the rack came off and crushed Tomlin and burned Bright.
“Extrudex Aluminum could have prevented this tragic loss by protecting workers from hazards unique to its operation,” OSHA’s area director in Cleveland, Howard Eberts, said in a statement. “Workers should not be asked to take such risks, and OSHA will not tolerate such disregard for worker safety.”
OSHA said the most egregious citations involved exposing workers to hazards from the hot metal racks and hot aluminum products they said could weigh as much as 8,000 pounds. The hazards, OSHA said, could involve being struck by the racks, pinned under them or burned by the products.
Inspectors also cited Extrudex for six other serious violations for failing to provide protective equipment— such as jackets, pants and arm guards— in the hot ovens, having no first aid responders at the facility, and equipment and other procedural violations.
The citations said the company failed to ensure the rack that eventually crushed Tomlin was locked in place while workers performed maintenance on the racks.
The citations also said the company failed to train workers in first aid. After the incident took place, documents said, it took six minutes for the first ambulance to arrive and seven for the second.
Extrudex has denied the charges. In a statement released Thursday, company officials said Extrudex will pursue its remedies at the administrative level and judicial level if necessary.
“We have reviewed all company safety procedures and safety training programs in place and remain convinced that at the end of the OSHA review process, we will demonstrate that we continue to maintain a safe environment for our employees,” said attorney Richard L. Goodman.
The company has 15 days to respond to the citations by requesting an informal hearing or contesting the findings.
OSHA placed the company on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, the agency said in a statement.
Extrudex produces aluminum products for architectural, consumer and electrical uses. There are two other production plants in Canada and employs 477. The North Jackson plant, at 12051 Mahoning Ave., employs 140 workers.