Not an “accident”: Bud Wesley, 65, suffers fatal work-related injury in Belding, MI

Bud Wesley, 65, suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Wednesday, November 30, while working at Spectrum Industries in Belding, Michigan. The Daily News reports:

  • The incident occurred at about 5 a.m.
  • The city’s police chief said that Mr. Wesley “was a part of the night maintenance crew at the facility. They were doing some high-level work and he fell from his working position.”
  • The company’s president said that Mr. Wesley was employed by the firm since 1998.

Spectrum Industries is a privately-held firm with 400 employees. Its business involves “the application of functional and decorative finishes to supplied metal and plastic components.” It’s a specialty supplier to vehicle manufacturers and the aerospace industry.

Using OSHA’s on-line database, I did not find any records of Michigan-OSHA (MIOSHA) inspections at the plant. A Spectrum Industries’ plant in Grand Rapids, MI was the subject of a MIOSHA safety inspection in 2008. The company paid a $1,200 penalty for four serious violations related to inadequate protections around open vats and guarding around belts.

The AFL-CIO’s 2016 Death on the Job report notes:

  • MIOSHA has 62 inspectors to cover more than 217,000 workplaces.
  • With that number of inspectors, it would take 58 years for MIOSHA to inspect each workplace in Michigan just once.
  • The average penalty for a serious violation in Michigan is $612.
  • The median penalty amount for a work-related fatality occurring in Michigan is $5,600.

OSHA has until the end of May 2017 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that claimed the life of Bud Wesley.

When the local press initially reported Mr. Wesley’s death, they called it an accident. An “accident” suggests the circumstances were unforeseen or could not have been avoided. I predict MIOSHA’s findings will tell a different story. Common sense steps could have been taken by his employer and safety regulations followed to prevent Mr. Wesley’s death. It was no “accident.”