Avanti Industries of Glendale, Ariz., is facing $9,500 in citations from the Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) following the death of Quanex technical service manager Tim Harris. He died on April 22 while visiting the company after police say a heavy rack of vinyl window framing fell off a forklift and struck him.

Tim Harris of Quanex died on April 22.
Tim Harris of Quanex died on April 22.

Avanti will contest the citations and penalties,  ADOSH spokesperson Rachel Brockway said. A hearing before an administrative law judge is scheduled for December 10.

The ADOSH penalties against Avanti were approved during an August 14 meeting of the Industrial Commission of Arizona. According to the minutes of the meeting, Avanti was cited for unloading racks of vinyl whose weight exceeded the rated capacity for the forklift, a Hyundai 30L-7A. That model has a maximum load capacity of 6,000 pounds, according to product documentation from Hyundai.

It was unclear how much total weight the forklift was carrying at the time of the incident that killed Harris, but a police report says the rack of vinyl that struck him weighed an estimated 3,000 pounds.

Additionally, ADOSH cited Avanti for modifying the right-side tine of the forklift to allow the driver to drag out racks of vinyl from delivery trucks. According to regulations from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), such modifications must be approved in writing by the manufacturer of the equipment. Avanti was also cited for having a locked exit door at the facility.

DWM reached out to Avanti for a comment on the charges, but did not receive a reply by press time.

Harris, 65, a well-known and respected 40-year industry veteran, had been with Tremco/Truseal/Quanex for 31 years.

Forklifts, while invaluable for material handling, are also among the most deadly workplace hazards.

DWM blogger Jim Plavecsky pointed out in a recent column that a forklift-related fatality occurs in the U.S. every three to four days. Around 80 to 100 deaths per year can be attributed to forklift accidents, according to OSHA statistics.

OSHA statistics from January 2011 to March 2014 show that forklifts accounted for the most safety citations in the building materials industry with 71, according to recent webinars conducted by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA).

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