Warut Sintapanon | Dreamstime
Machinery lockout devices.

Gray Iron Foundry Cited in Fatal Incident

April 9, 2024
A supervisor was pinned in an automated machine, and OSHA states the proper power-off and lockout/tagout procedures were not enforced.

U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigators found that a fatal accident in August 2023 would have been prevented had safety regulations been maintained at Cullman Casting Corp.  A 38-year-old worker was caught within a vacuum molding machine at the Alabama gray iron foundry, a subsidiary of North Vernon Industry Corp. that casts counterweights for forklifts.

“This tragic incident should never have occurred,” stated OSHA area office director Joel Batiz in Birmingham, Alabama. “Manufacturing companies use complex, high-powered, industrial-sized equipment and every precaution must be taken, and every safety procedure followed. When an employer such as Cullman Casting Corp. fails to make safety a priority, severe and sadly fatal consequences can occur, leaving family and friends to grieve.”

Cullman Casting uses the vacuum molding (sometimes called V-cast) process, in which dry sand and plastic film are placed under negative pressure to form highly accurate molds for dimensionally precise, smooth-finish castings. According to OSHA, a second-shift production supervisor attempted to adjust plastic film on a mold when the machine cycled, pinning the worker between moving components within the machine.

Investigators determined that Cullman Casting “repeatedly exposed workers to safety hazards by failing to de-energize and lockout the automated machine while workers were performing maintenance and cleaning.

Cullman Casting was issued six serious violations and OSHA proposed penalties totaling $95,981, which amount is set by federal law.

In OSHA’s terminology a “serious” hazard is one from which death or serious physical harm may result, and which an employer knew or should have known exists.

Specifically, OSHA stated the company failed to develop and apply written lockout/tagout procedures; conduct periodic inspections of lockout/tagout procedures; ensure that employees are trained on lockout/tagout procedures; make certain that employees place locks when conducting lockout/tagout procedures; and guarantee machine guarding was in place for employees working in the pit.

As provided by regulations, Cullman Casting was allowed 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.