OSHA fines Alcoa $37K in worker’s death

2012-10-04T04:30:00Z 2012-10-04T05:07:39Z OSHA fines Alcoa $37K in worker’s deathBrian Wellner The Quad-City Times
October 04, 2012 4:30 am  • 

An Alcoa Davenport Works employee who died at the plant in July was doing maintenance on a piece of machinery that wasn’t properly secured, according to a federal report released Wednesday.

The July 16 death of Robert Leech prompted an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which is citing the Riverdale facility with six violations deemed “serious” and proposing a fine of $37,800.

OSHA inspectors discovered that about the time of the fatal accident in the facility’s sheet finishing department, a threader table attached to a coil slitter “was not pinned in place” after being positioned, the report states.

“The employer did not specifically address energy control procedures for controlling movement of the threader table due to gravity,” the report states.

The report doesn’t mention Leech, a 45-year-old father of five from Wheatland, Iowa.

Jens Nissen, an Iowa OSHA spokesman, confirmed Wednesday that Leech was doing maintenance on the machinery when the accident occurred, resulting in “traumatic injuries.” He added that the machinery was involved in the incident.

Nissen declined to comment on the exact cause of Leech’s death, saying an OSHA fatality and catastrophe investigation form eventually will be listed on the federal OSHA website outlining more details of the death.

Alcoa spokesman John Riches said the company has arranged to meet with OSHA either today or Friday to “finalize the citation.”

“We have received the report, and we’re reviewing it,” Riches said, declining further comment.

All six violations are related to the same piece of machinery, the report shows.

“The employer had not performed a periodic inspection of the No. 14 coil slitter lockout procedures to ensure any deficiencies were identified,” the report states.

The report also states Alcoa did not ensure anyone maintaining the machinery received training on “all applicable hazardous energy sources, including gravity.”

Leech had been employed as a general mechanic at the Davenport Works since March.

He worked for nine years at Archer Daniels Midland Co. in Clinton and at Monsanto in Muscatine before joining Alcoa, according to his obituary. He also coached Little League baseball.

A memorial fund in his name was established at First Trust and Savings Bank in Wheatland.

Cathy Cartee of Davenport, the attorney representing the Leech family, said Alcoa has assisted with some of the family’s financial needs since the accident, including paying for the burial expenses and grief counseling for family members.

“Alcoa has been more than kind to this family,” Cartee said. “They’ve been reasonable to deal with and sympathetic to the Leech family.”

The family still struggles with the death and continues to inquire about exactly what happened, Cartee said.

The last fatal workplace accident at the Riverdale plant occurred in 2000.

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(5) Comments

  1. donjuan463
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    donjuan463 - October 04, 2012 9:38 am
    Condolences to the family. I have been a millwright specialist and performed maintenance in the mechanical field for over thirty years, and realize that accidents do happen. One thing I can assure you thou, when it comes to down time on a critical piece of equipment, companies in my experience take shortcuts. What saddens me is the companies desire to turn a dollar, usually always comes ahead of employee safety. It frustrates me even more to see that, even with citations issued, they were only fined $37,000. Seems to be a small amount for such devastating outcome! Pull it together Alcoa - Safety First!!!
  2. donjuan463
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    donjuan463 - October 04, 2012 9:24 am
    What???
  3. 1of3
    Report Abuse
    1of3 - October 04, 2012 6:18 am
    Ooops sorry folks I misread that the first time. Disregard my comment please
  4. 1of3
    Report Abuse
    1of3 - October 04, 2012 6:17 am
    “We have received the report, and we’re reviewing it,” Riches said, declining further comment

    Ok If you have not received the report, how are you reviewing it??
  5. The Jaded Jokester
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    The Jaded Jokester - October 04, 2012 2:47 am
    Missing in this article is the part about the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) used for the piece of equipment that maintenance crew was working on. According to a current hourly Alcoa associate, they were using a revised SOP for said piece of equipment. However, there was a step omitted in the transfer from the old SOP to the new SOP. According to this associate, had that step been listed in the new revised SOP, the accident may have never happened. It was also said that copies of the old SOP, while erased from Alcoa's Intranet, are still present within the facility.
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