Tonawanda Coke Cited After Employee Dies While Servicing Elevator

OSHA says that proper safety procedures and training would have prevented the accident.

OSHA announced that it found the death of a Tonawanda Coke Corp. employee in Buffalo, N.Y., who was pulled into the rotating shaft of a coal elevator could have been prevented. The worker's jacket was caught, pulling the man into the rotating shaft.

An investigation by the agency determined the employer did not shut down the elevator nor locked out its power source.

"Training employees on lockout procedures and ensuring those procedures are used would have prevented this needless loss of a worker's life," said Michael Scime, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Compounding this tragedy is the disturbing fact that OSHA cited Tonawanda Coke in the past for not following the requirements of the lockout standard. Yet, the company exposed both the victim and another employee who greased and lubricated plant equipment to these same hazards. This is unacceptable. It is Tonawanda Coke's responsibility to eliminate these hazards once and for all and protect its employees."

Tonawanda Coke has been cited for two repeated and six serious violations of workplace safety standards and faces $175,200 in fines for the violations. The repeated violations follow OSHA inspections in 2010 and 2014 that found similar hazards. Tonawanda Coke produces foundry coke, a coal byproduct, at the site.

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