Bowling Worker Dies after Sweatshirt Catches in Pinsetter

Northwest Lanes received 8 serious violations after the incident

According to a news release from OSHA, a 53-year-old bowling alley worker was asphyxiated when his hooded sweatshirt was caught in a pinsetter at Northwest Lanes in Fairfield, Ohio, because the machine’s operating parts were improperly exposed.

The fatality occurred while the man was retrieving a bowling ball. An investigation by OSHA determined that pinsetters mechanisms at Northwest Lanes lacked adequate guards to prevent employees from hazardous exposure to moving parts. Because of this, OSHA issued eight serious safety violations to the alley’s owner.

"A wife, children and a grandchild lost a loved one in a preventable workplace tragedy," said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "Northwest Lanes had identified issues with its 1970s-era equipment, but it did not ensure workers were protected from dangerous parts. Those in the recreation industry must remember unsafe operation of machines used to entertain people can put a worker's life at risk."

Specifically, OSHA found Northwest Lanes lacked a program for preventing the unintentional operation of machinery during servicing and maintenance including jams. The agency noted that equipment, including pulleys, belts and shafts, lacked guards to prevent workers from coming near operating parts.

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