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OSHA Fines Loren Cook Co. $511,000 After Worker's Death

Earlier this year a worker was killed while on the job at a local manufacturing plant. After an investigation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or OSHA), the company will be fined over half a million dollars. KSMU’s Matt Evans has more.

On May 13, 2009, 59- year-old Charles Knapp was working with a manual spinning lathe at Loren Cook Company in Springfield when a part ejected from the machine and killed him. An OSHA investigation has found that the machine Knapp was working with, along with six other similar machines in the plant, was unsafe for use.

“These machines did not have the proper safeguards in place to ensure that ejected pieces of metal couldn’t strike and hurt an employee.”

That’s Jeremy Eggers, a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Labor. He says those seven machines found at the Loren Cook Company plant in Springfield caused OSHA to issue seven willful citations totaling $490,000 in fines.

Eggers says a willful citation is when an employer intentionally disregards an employee’s safety and health or when that employer interferes with that employee’s safety. Along with the willful citations, Loren Cook Company was fined an additional $21,000 for three serious citations for a lack of personal protective equipment for workers.

“This is a significant case. What we found was certainly, again seven willful violations, I mean this is serious business, there’s no doubt about that.”

Eggers says the fines were issued on November 10 and the company has 15 business days to comply with the citations, to request a conference with the OSHA area director, or have an independent commission review OSHA’s findings.

Loren Cook Company is a major manufacturer of fans and ventilation systems and employs around 800 workers. About 580 are located in Springfield and the rest are at a North Carolina site. The company declined to comment.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.