WKYT Investigates | Georgetown plant cited, fined for safety violations after worker’s death
YS Precision Stamping has faced multiple citations and fines since 2020, state records show.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WKYT) - A Georgetown stamping plant has begun making payments on thousands of dollars in penalties following an employee’s death on the job last winter.
Few details were released at the time.
Now, a nearly-600-page casefile WKYT Investigates obtained through an open records request is providing more details about what happened and why occupational safety compliance inspectors have since issued several citations for violations of workplace standards.
The accident occurred at 1:51 a.m. when Nava was hit by a piece of a balance pin that shattered while he was setting up an automatic hydraulic press, the fatality/catastrophe report states. He died at the scene, the result of a “penetrating injury to the neck,” according to his death certificate.
Inspectors with the Kentucky Office of Occupational Safety and Health launched an investigation in response.
In July, the case audit report shows, the agency assessed $17,250 in proposed penalties for three separate violations. YSPS is contesting one of them.
The company has not responded to WKYT’s requests for comment.
Inspectors believe Nava had the plexiglass door open on the fine blanking press he was setting up at the time of the accident. That is against the instructions that employees were trained on, the report states, yet it was something, inspectors learned, that “appeared to be common practice.”
Employees told them that it was “not uncommon” for operators to “cycle the machine with the door open during set up because it was difficult to see the material in the die,” the report states. “The plexiglass door was frequently coated in oil as the die was constantly sprayed with oil during operation for cooling purposes.”
Supervisors said that they were aware of workers doing this and corrected them, but inspectors said that “discipline was not enforced.”
This is categorized as a “repeat serious” violation of a standard that requires machine guarding to protect the operator and other employees from hazards.
“YS Precision Stamping Inc. did not ensure [the hydraulic press] was safeguarded in that it allowed its employees to bypass the interlocked front door,” the notification of penalty states.
YSPS was previously cited for a violation of the same guarding standard (for a different machine) following an inspection in 2020. In that case, OSH compliance officials proposed a $4,200 penalty for that specific violation. (An informal settlement was reached to lower the penalty to $3,380, records show.)
In this case, officials assessed a penalty of $14,000.
OSH officials also cited YSPS for a second serious violation, alleging that lockout/tagout, a safety procedure to shut down equipment for service and maintenance, was not used when Nava bypassed the interlock of the press to jam the switch and keep the plexiglass door open while he installed a new steel coil.
YS Precision Stamping was assessed a $3,250 penalty for this violation but is currently contesting it.
“At this stage, the machine can’t be locked out,” the company’s HR manager wrote in a letter notifying the compliance division of its intention to contest the violation. “The machine must be in RUN mode and the safety devices should be used....
“The incident occurred not because the machine was not locked,” he wrote. “It occurred because the safety guard was bypassed.”
If a settlement is not reached, then this aspect of the case would head to an administrative hearing in front of the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSH officials also cited YSPS for bloodborne pathogen training having lapsed for an employee with occupational exposure. No monetary penalty was proposed.
First responders to the accident on January 9 “estimated that [Nava] had lost at least three liters of blood at the scene,” according to a narrative of the response, which was included in the OSH investigative casefile.
A new inspection of YSPS was just opened August 8 in response to another safety complaint, online records show. Details of that complaint and inspection are not currently available while the case remains open and active.
It is the fourth YSPS inspection listed on OSHA’s online federal database since April 2020.
In 2022, state compliance officers inspected YSPS in response to a complaint that alleged multiple safety concerns. OSH “validated one of the complaint items and observed multiple other safety violations.” One was deemed to be a “repeat serious” violation. The agency initially assessed $22,900 in penalties, but the total owed was amended down to $18,320, records show.
Its assessed penalties from citations in 2020 - including its initial violation of the machine guarding standard - totaled $9,100, but were lowered to $7,280.
The machine guarding standard is consistently one of the violations Kentucky OSH cites most. (From 2018-2022, the most recent years for which these lists are available, the standard’s rank on Kentucky’s “most cited” list was considerably higher than that of the nationwide OSHA list, the state’s compliance division reported.)
The YSPS plant in Georgetown reported a total of 15 injuries from 2018-2022, according to the company’s OSHA log of work-related injuries and illnesses. Four of those happened at the fine blanking press, although not all of them involved the machine itself.
The company had higher-than-average TRC and DART rates for the years reported, investigators said, referring to two ways to quantify the frequency and severity of on-the-job injuries.
At last count, the company employed 51 people, records in the casefile show.
A lawsuit against the company, filed in February by a former employee who claimed he was retaliated against and fired after filing complaints over safety concerns and a lack of adequate training, was dismissed in May.
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