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Caterpillar fined in employee death

Jun, 07 2006


(Boonville, Missouri) - Although it's been nearly six months since the death of Matthew Payne, 22, at Boonville Caterpillar, Inc., the investigation by OSHA has not been closed. However, a cause of death ruling has been issued. According to a spokesperson from the Kansas City OSHA office, “As a result of an informal conference held with the employer (Caterpillar, Inc.) and OSHA, a settlement has been reached. As a result, the employer has agreed to abate the hazards specified on the citations concerning this particular inspection. They have been given a long-term abatement period to correct the problems. They have, however, put into effect interim abatement measures until the final abatement has been completed. They have up to six months to complete the abatement based on the enormity of the task of so much machinery. “We cannot comment on the report until their abatement is complete,” added the spokesperson. The Citation and Notification of Penalty issued by OSHA on May 4, 2006, a matter of public record to be posted at the workplace and available on the www.osha.gov, reads: “Citation 1, Item 1. Type of violation: Serious. Section 5(a)(10 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that press operators were exposed to the hazard of being struck by the mold drawers. The mold drawers for the #4 Hydraulic Press in the Mounts Area were not adequately protected from rolling out of their tracks as the employer was not requiring the utilization of two stops on each mold drawer on the operation side of the machine when it was evident that mold drawer stops frequently fail subjecting employees to the hazard of falling mold drawers. All four of the mold drawers had only one mold stop instead of two on the operator end of each drawer, and the top drawer that came loose from the press had the one mold drawer stop hanging from one bolt. On or about December 13, 2005, at 2416 Mid-America Industrial Drive, Boonville, Missouri, a press operator received fatal injuries when the press operator was truck by the top mold drawer when it came off the rails at the end of the press. Among other methods, one feasible and acceptable method to correct this hazard is to ensure the following: 1) Require the use of two mold stops, instead of just one, for each drawer. 2) Design a better mold stop for the end of the press to ensure that they tray does not come off the end of the rails when the press is being utilized. 3) Design and install a redundant stopping system for mold drawer.s Abatement certification is required for this violation and in addition, documentation demonstrating that abatement is complete must be included with your certification. This documentation may include, but is not limited to, evidence of the purchase or repair of the equipment, photographic or video evidence of abatement, or other written records. A proposed penalty of $5,000 is to be paid by Caterpillar, Inc. to OSHA. Rusty Dunn, director of corporate communications for Caterpillar, Inc., said, “Caterpillar has worked closely with OSHA on investigating the accident of last December that resulted in the death of Matthew Payne. We have discussed their comments and met with OSHA to better understand its findings.” According to Dunn, safety training and programs were in place prior to the accident and additional safety steps have been added. “We continue to work to make the Boonville plant a model of safety,” added Dunn. “No job is so important we can't take time to do it safely and Caterpillar is firmly committed to protecting the health and safety of its employees.” Although Payne was employed through Volt Services Group and working at Caterpillar, Dunn commented, “A contracted employee is no different than a regular employee.” According to plant manager Bruce Hershog, Caterpillar began operations in Boonville in 1993 and employes approximately 175 workers.

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