Fatal work injury that killed Erik Deighton, 23, was preventable, MIOSHA cites Colonial Plastics

Erik Deighton’s work-related death could have been prevented. That’s how I see the findings of Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) in the agency’s citations against his employer, Colonial Plastics (here, here). The 23-year-old was working at the firm’s Shelby Township, Michigan location in March 2014 when he suffered fatal traumatic injuries involving a stamping press. I wrote about the incident shortly after it was reported by local press.

MIOSHA conducted an inspection of the worksite following Deighton’s death. The agency recently issued citations to Colonial Plastics for seven serious violations and proposed a $20,850 penalty. Those violations include failing to comply with several of MIOSHA’s safety regulations which specifically address plastic molding operations, such as:

R 408.16211: An employer shall provide training to an employee regarding the operating procedures,  hazards, and safeguards of any assigned job.

R 408.16226(5) When used, interlocks shall be installed to minimize the possibility of accidental operation or tampering.

R 408.16227(2) …each employee doing the work shall lock out the power source of the machine or equipment to be repaired or serviced if unexpected motion would cause injury. Any residual pressure which would be hazardous shall be relieved before and remain relieved during work by an employee doing the work.

R 408.16234(6) When purging an injection molding machine, an employee shall be protected from the purging splatter by a shield that is fixed, portable, or worn on the employee. The same guarding shall be used when servicing a heated runner manifold nozzle.

When the incident was initially reported, Shelby Township Police Captain Stephen Stanbury told the press,

“This is totally an accident.”

He added:

“I don’t think it’s a sloppy operation from what our guys found at Colonial Plastics.”

MIOSHA’s findings tell a different story. Call it sloppy, call it poor management, call it breaking the law. Whatever you want to call it, Erik Deighton’s work-related death could have been prevented.