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Friday July 31st, 2015 1:35PM

Koswire fined after worker fatality in March 2012

By Staff
FLOWERY BRANCH - A Flowery Branch company has been hit with nearly $146,000 in fines following the death of an employee earlier this year.

Federal OSHA investigators say the accident that killed an employee of Koswire Inc. in March was preventable. Investigators say 30-year-old Adam Wingo was killed when he became caught in moving wire and was pulled into a machine.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Koswire Inc. with a total of 19 safety and health violations, including one willful, in connection with Wingo's death. Investigators said the worker became caught in moving wire and was pulled into rotating rolls at the company's facility in Flowery Branch on March 2.

OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office initiated an inspection March 3 in response to the fatality.

Investigators found Koswire, Inc. failed to provide machine guarding to protect operators and other workers from hazards created by ingoing pinch points and rotating parts on equipment throughout the plant, something they termed a willful safety violation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

In addition, 13 serious safety and health violations were levied, involving failure to develop specific written procedures for the control of potentially hazardous energy for machines with more than one energy source, ensure that authorized employees receive training to recognize hazardous energy sources, provide an emergency eyewash station at the degreasing tank, perform sling inspections, remove slings that are damaged and worn, ensure chemical splash goggles are used when employees handle corrosive chemicals, and properly label drums and tanks containing corrosive materials. Additionally, OSHA identified fall hazards and found that the company did not provide equipment guarding on pulleys or horizontal and vertical belts. 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.

The report also said five other-than-serious safety and health violations include failing to perform monthly inspections of crane hooks and ensure that all hooks had been tested, provide covers on junction boxes, certify workplace personal protective equipment, develop a written respiratory protection program for employees required to wear respirators and provide employees with Appendix D information for the voluntary use of disposable dust masks. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

"This incident was preventable. Employers cannot allow employees to be exposed to unguarded equipment or other workplace hazards," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "It is imperative that management find and eliminate hazards before another worker is killed or injured."

Due to the willful violation and the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed Koswire Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

The citations for the willful and serious violations carry $145,530 in proposed penalties. The citations for the other-than-serious violations do not carry monetary penalties.

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