Cardinal Aluminum fined for serious workplace injury in 2012 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Cardinal Aluminum fined for serious workplace injury in 2012

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Just over three years ago, an employee of Cardinal Aluminum Co. was seriously injured and hospitalized after a fork lift knocked over a steel beam at the company's Preston Highway production facility.

Cardinal Aluminum's safety record is under scrutiny after a worker died Monday after being hit by a piece of machinery and sustaining “blunt-force trauma to the head,” according to police.

Workplace safety regulators are investigating what lead to fatal accident, which happened around 8 a.m. on Monday.

In the 2012 incident, a fork lift ran into an 8-foot “A-frame rack,” causing a 27-foot steel beam to tip the rack over onto the back of an employee who was standing nearby, according to a Kentucky Labor Cabinet violation notice obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

Workplace safety officials blamed Cardinal Aluminum for failing to provide separate, marked traffic ways for pedestrian and fork truck traffic on the production floor, according to the violation notice.

It was one of nine violations regulators found during 2012 inspections at Cardinal Aluminum – eight of which were labeled “serious,” meaning they have the potential to lead to injuries.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet issued $34,550 in fines, but Cardinal settled with the cabinet for $17,875 in 2013, a process which ensures the safety issues have been corrected, said Daniel Lowry, spokesman for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.

Cardinal Aluminum CEO Chip Edwards told WDRB on Monday that – to his recollection – the 2012 violations have no connection to Monday's incident, but he was unprepared to discuss the earlier issues in detail.

While most of those violations were labeled “serious,” none were considered “willful” or “repeat.”

Besides the fork lift accident, Kentucky regulators found that Cardinal Aluminum failed to ensure that employees used appropriate eye and face protection when exposed hazardous chemicals such as sulfuric acid; failed to provide adequate training for employees working in certain confined spaces; and failed to provide storage or locker space to prevent contamination of employees' street clothes, among other violations.

Just three days before the fork lift accident, another injury occurred when an overhead crane caused some loose aluminum strips to fall.

But Kentucky regulators faulted Cardinal Aluminum merely for failing to report the worker's hospitalization within three days, as required by law.

Without speaking specifically to the case, Lowry said not all workplace injuries are the fault of employers. Sometimes they are freak accidents or purely the fault of employees, and regulators have to be able to show how an employer's failure to follow rules led to the incident before a violation can be issued.

Cardinal Aluminum has not had any violations since 2012, according to a U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration database.

Each year Kentucky has about 16,000 work-related injuries that are serious enough to cause the employee to miss work, and about 25 work-related deaths, Lowry said.

WDRB reporters Kate Springer and Marcus Green contributed to this story. Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved. 

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