27 Investigates: OSHA checking on death at Niles factory

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – A man was crushed to death while working at an aluminum press Tuesday night.

The investigation into the accident that killed Daniel Banks, 49, of Leavittsburg, is just beginning. Federal investigators said it could take up to six months before the investigation is complete.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived at BRT Extrusions in Niles early Wednesday morning. They are launching a full-scale investigation into the workplace death.

“Our inspectors will investigate the equipment in the area where the incident happened and we also will conduct interviews with witnesses and evaluate the company’s safety and health program to ensure that they were confirming with OSHA requirements,” OSHA Cleveland-area director Howard Eberts said.

Banks’ arm was crushed in one of the company’s three aluminum presses. The smallest one is rated at 1,600 tons.

The accident occurred just after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. It took just minutes for safety workers and Lane Ambulance to arrive at the the North Main Street factory, but it was too late.

Company president Roy E. Smith did not want to go on camera, but sent the following statement: “We do not have a comment at this time but would ask everyone to keep our employee’s family in your thoughts and prayers.”

During the investigation, inspectors will look for ways for plant operators to improve to prevent future injuries.

“If there are findings related to the incident or the company has violated safety and health standards by OSHA, we would issue citations as appropriate. Then the company would be required to implement additional controls or safety requirements according to OSHA regulations,” Eberts said.

According to OSHA’s website, the company has been cited for two serious violations in the past: One in 2007 for failing to guard a power supply and another in 2009 for failing to guard dangerous machinery.

The company produces aluminum pieces using standard and custom dies.

OSHA has investigated two other workplace fatalities this year in the Mahoning Valley.

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