Earlier this year, IEN reported on the death of a 42-year-old assistant plant manager at Marshall Pottery. Arturo Gonzalez was killed after he entered a 300-foot kiln to perform maintenance when an automated system turned on, closed the doors, and trapped Gonzalez inside where he succumbed to the heat. The industrial accident happened on April 16, 2017, and the official cause of death was "environmental hyperthermia."
This week, OSHA announced that it has reached a settlement with Marshall Pottery. The company will pay more than $545,000 ($545,160) for the violations that lead to Gonzalez's death. OSHA cited the company with six willful violations and 21 serious violations, primarily focused around the company's failure to implement confined space and lockout/tagout programs. As per the OSH Act of 1970, the money will go to the U.S. Treasury’s general fund.
What's worse is that this actually wasn't the first time that such an incident happened at the facility in Marshall, TX. According a statement from OSHA Area Director Basil Singh, the company was cited for similar violations in 2008 following another plant fatality.
According to the Marshall News Messenger, a 33-year-old supervisor was crushed to death inside of a dryer used in the company's manufacturing process. It was a similar failure to use the appropriate lockout/tagout procedures.
In May, the Gonzalez family sued Marshall Pottery for $1 million in damages for gross negligence.
IEN reached out to Marshall Pottery and the Gonzalez family's attorney, but we have not heard back regarding our requests for comment.
The accident is a grim reminder of the life and death importance of implementing appropriate lockout/tagout programs, because in this case, it could've spared a man's life.
This is IEN Now with David Mantey.