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Man Died Because Machine was Bypassed

OSHA says company allowed machine to operate with its safety feature bypassed.

In March 2016, Steve Volkmann, a 36-year-old employee of Carlson Tool and Manufacturing died from injuries that he sustained after he was trapped in a lathe in an industrial accident at the company's plant in Wisconsin.

According to a report that OSHA released yesterday, Volkmann, who had worked for the company for two years, was hand-polishing a 40-inch long metal cylinder when he became entangled in the machine's operating spindle and suffered injuries that led to his death two days later.

During the investigation, federal inspectors found that Carlson allowed the lathe to operate with its safety interlocks bypassed. The interlocks are designed to prevent workers from being exposed to the machine’s moving parts.

OSHA cited the company for one willful, and one serious violation of machine safety standards with proposed penalties of more than $124,000.

In a press release, OSHA's area director of the Milwaukee office said, "All too often, OSHA finds employers are complacent with machine safety features and bypass them to speed production. This worker's tragic death was preventable. Carlson Tool & Manufacturing must re-evaluate its overall safety and health management system, including their machine safety programs and procedures to ensure they are effective.”

According to one report from GM Today, the incident occurred on Volkmann’s birthday. He was married for 18 years and had an 11-year-old daughter when the tragedy took his life, all because machine guards were bypassed to speed production.

When it comes to safety, we can and we must do better as an industry.

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