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Employee killed as duct tape held open machine safety guards at Kingman Plastics Plant

KINGMAN, Kan. (KWCH) — Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration have determined that failure to follow required safety procedures contributed to the death of a worker at a Kingman plastics manufacturer.

The incident occurred on August 4, 2022 at Great Lakes Polymer Technologies LLC. Investigators found that the tape over the safety interlock prevented the machine from shutting down. The victim was trying to clear a jam when she was caught by the bagger as she was pulled into the spinning bars.

OSHA has issued citations to the company, trading as FabPro Polymers, for two group willful violations, one repeat violation, and seven serious violations for the following conditions:

  • The absence of adequate protection of the machine.
  • Do not use lockout/tagout procedures to interrupt machine operation during service and maintenance.
  • Do not train workers in lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Exposing workers to slip and fall hazards from plastic particles and spilled hydraulic fluid on floors.

OSHA has proposed fines of $292,421. In 2019, the agency sued the company for similar violations at the plant that produces plastic fibers for use in cement and other construction products.

“Proper safety procedures and training could have prevented this worker from losing his life,” said Todd Underwood, OSHA Area Director in Wichita, Kansas. “The manufacturing industry knows that moving machine parts can be deadly, especially when proper guarding is not used and safety procedures are ignored.”

OSHA investigators found that the employer failed to ensure that lockout/tagout procedures were in place while unlocking the machinery. The company also failed to train workers in lockout/tagout procedures.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of subpoenas and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director, or challenge the findings before the Independent Commission on Occupational Safety and Health Review.

FactFinder 12 looked at FabPro’s history which includes other OSHA violations dating back to 2016. Twice in 2016 the company was sued for five violations classified by OSHA as “serious” and charged it with approximately $40,000.

In 2019, the company was sued again for five “serious” violations after a worker lost a finger in a workplace accident. This led to a fine of more than $47,000 from OSHA.

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