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OSHA Investigates Worker’s Death at Texas Aluminum Extruding Company

Late last year, a deadly work accident occurred at a Texas aluminum extruding company. A worker at Extruders Inc. in Wylie, Texas died after what the plant manager described as “an unfortunate and tragic event.” The worker had been called to the site to repair a piece of malfunctioning machinery.  While working on the equipment, the machine malfunctioned and the man suffered significant injuries.

Fire and emergency medical services personnel arrived at the scene and started administering CPR on the injured worker. Emergency personnel transported the man to the hospital, where he then died from injuries sustained in the accident. Officials do not suspect that any foul play was involved.. The medical examiner’s office determined the cause of death as blunt force injuries in combination with traumatic asphyxia and classified the worker’s death as an accident. This, however, does not necessarily mean that the accident was unpreventable.

The company contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after the accident, and OSHA is investigating why the equipment malfunctioned and why the accident occurred. Extruders Inc. is a division of Atrium Corporation, which is based in Dallas and manufactures windows and doors. This is not the first accident involving Extruders, Inc.  In 2013, OSHA proposed $166,000 in penalties in connection with 15 safety violations, “including one willful violation, and for failing to protect workers from the inadvertent start-up of machinery during maintenance.”

Hazardous Energy at Worksites

A common cause of accidents that occur during the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment involves hazardous energy. Energy sources, such as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, and thermal, can pose a significant hazard from the unexpected startup of machinery that can then release stored energy. If not properly controlled, hazardous energy can seriously injure or kill a worker.

 To control hazardous energy, it is important that employers implement proper control procedures, including implementing proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures, training workers to recognize applicable hazardous energy sources, and training workers on proper hazardous energy control procedures

Employer’s Duty to Provide Safe Workplace

Every worker has the right to work in a workplace free from dangerous and unreasonable risks and hazards. Employers are obligated by law to provide a safe work environment. These legal obligations include:

  • Finding and correcting safety and health problems;
  • Trying to eliminate or reduce hazards by making changes in working conditions rather than just relying on masks, gloves, ear plugs or other types of personal protective equipment;
  • Informing employees about hazards through training, labels, alarms, and other methods; and
  • Keeping accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

If you suffer an injury at work, you have the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses. If you believe that your employer is maintaining unsafe or unhealthful working conditions, you should bring your concerns to the attention of your employer.

Contact a Texas Plant Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related injury, a Zehl & Associates’ Texas plant accident attorney can protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact Zehl & Associates’ plant accident attorneys today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.