Federal Investigators Attribute Fatal Workplace Incident to Safety Training Lapse

by Anna

Federal investigators have determined that the tragic death of a 57-year-old employee at a Wisconsin pallet manufacturer was directly linked to inadequate training in machine safety protocols and a failure to ensure compliance with those procedures. The incident occurred in late 2023 when the employee was struck by the carriage of a lumber stacking machine at Konz Wood Products, resulting in fatal injuries.

The investigation, conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was prompted by a report of the worker fatality last December. Upon inspection, it was discovered that the company had neglected to implement proper lockout procedures while the employee was removing a jammed board from the machine. As a consequence, the metal carriage unexpectedly moved, leading to the tragic accident.


The stacking machine in question is responsible for arranging boards onto pallets for transportation, a process involving the pushing and lowering of each row of wood onto the pallet upon completion.


This unfortunate incident marked the fifth inspection at Konz’s Appleton plant since 2016. Notably, the company had previously been cited in 2019 for four serious violations, including lapses in required lockout/tagout procedures and a deficiency in fall protection measures.


Lockout/tagout procedures mandated by federal law are designed to disable machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy during maintenance and servicing activities.


OSHA inspectors issued Konz Wood Products with two repeat violations for their failure to implement proper lockout/tagout procedures and provide adequate fall protection for employees working in proximity to dangerous machinery. Additionally, the company received citations for 15 serious violations, which included inadequate point-of-operation and machine guarding on various equipment such as table saws, band saws, shaft ends, and chains and sprockets. Inspectors also observed deficiencies in fall protection measures, including missing staircase handrails, electrical hazards, and unsafe storage of oxygen tanks.

In response to the recurring safety breaches, OSHA has placed Konz Wood Products under its severe violator program and has proposed penalties totaling $177,453.

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