The Department of Labor proposed that chemical-making titan 3M pay $312,518 in penalties due to two safety violations at its plant in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
The federal agency’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors began investigating the site after a worker died getting caught in a fiber roll machine in May.
The same machine caused one worker’s death last year at 3M’s facility in Alexandria, Minnesota. Shortly after the fatality, 3M assessed its equipment at its U.S. and Canadian plants last May and concluded the machine was a hazard.
“The tragedy of another employee’s death in Wisconsin is compounded by the fact that the 3M Company completed a corporate-wide review and determined powered rollers were hazards in need of safety improvements,” Bill Donovan, OSHA Administrator in the Chicago region, said in a statement. “The company must address these hazards immediately to protect employees from serious injuries or worse.”
OSHA determined that 3M failed to use procedures that disabled the fiber line roll machinery to safeguard workers as they set up the production line. The federal agency also concluded that the chemical giant allowed workers to bypass machine guarding to cut and remove fibers from the rotating powered rollers and the floor, putting workers at risk of getting caught in the equipment.
3M has 15 business days from receiving the citation on Nov. 6 to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or challenge the findings, according to the release.
The company is currently in the process of evaluating OSHA’s citation and proposed penalties as well as working with the Department of Labor, 3M told Manufacturing Dive in an email.
“The safety and health of all our employees is our top priority, and we are deeply saddened by this tragic incident,” 3M said in a statement. “Over the last six months, we have worked closely with federal workplace safety and health regulators in connection with their inspection of our Prairie du Chien worksite. In addition, 3M has continued to implement improvements and investments to help prevent similar incidents in the future, and communicated these improvements to our employees at the worksite.”