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Investigation into Worker's Death Finds Pallet Manufacturer Failed to Train Employees

OSHA placed the company in its severe violator program.

Osha
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Federal investigators concluded that a Wisconsin pallet manufacturer’s failure to train employees in machine safety procedures, and ensure those methods were followed, contributed to the fatal injuries suffered by a 57-year-old employee struck by the carriage of a lumber stacking machine in late 2023.

Last December, OSHA investigators responded to a report of a worker fatality at Konz Wood Products and learned the company had not made sure the machine was locked out while the employee removed a board jammed in the machine. As he freed the board, the metal carriage moved, striking him and causing severe crushing injuries. 

The stacker machine’s metal carriage moves boards onto pallets for transport, pushing and lowering each row of wood onto a pallet upon completion. 

The fatal incident marked the fifth opening of an inspection since 2016 at Konz’s Appleton plant. The agency cited the company in 2019 after inspectors identified four serious violations, including one related to required lockout/tagout procedures and another related to lack of fall protection.

Federal lockout/tagout procedures are required by law to disable machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities.

OSHA inspectors issued Konz Wood Products two repeat violations for lacking lockout/tagout procedures and failing to provide fall protection when employees worked above dangerous machinery.

In addition, the agency cited the company for 15 serious violations for lack of point-of-operation and machine guarding on table saws, band saws, shaft ends and chains and sprockets. Inspectors also noted a lack of fall protection, including missing staircase handrails, electrical hazards and oxygen tanks stored unsafely. 

For its continued workplace safety failures, OSHA has placed Konz Wood Products in the agency’s severe violator program and proposed $177,453 in penalties.

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