A death at a coatings and extrusion company that serves the fenestration industry has led to proposed penalties of $171,169 following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In June, Daniel Ollhoff, 51, died in an accident at Crystal Finishing Systems in Mosinee, Wisc., according to a report from WSAW-TV in Wausau, Wisc. Federal investigators determined that the worker suffered fatal injuries when an automated crane pinned him between the crane hook and dip tank load bars as it moved product to different tanks on an anodizing line. Ollhoff was pronounced dead at the scene. The death led to the OSHA investigation, and earlier this month the agency issued three repeated, four serious and three other-than-serious safety citations to Crystal Finishing.

OSHA’s investigation found Crystal Finishing Systems failed to:

• Adequately guard machines to prevent workers from coming in contact with operating parts;
• Protect workers walking working surfaces;
• Provided adequate personal protective equipment, and;
• Train workers about hazardous chemicals in use at the facility.

Crystal Finishing Systems specializes in aluminum extrusions and applies powder coatings to a variety of underlying materials. According to its website, its clients include Kolbe Windows & Doors, Jeld-Wen, Lincoln Windows, Wojan Window and Door, and Hurd Windows and Doors.

“Although OSHA issued citations and fines this week related to a June accident, and also issued a press release, OSHA knows that Crystal Finishing has made significant investment in safety over many years,” Crystal Finishing Systems president Mark Matthiae wrote in a statement to DWM. “Over 90 percent of the fines were unrelated to the accident and allege infractions such as a missing railing and missing labels on a few containers among hundreds of properly labeled ones. We take these alleged infractions seriously, but think the citations and penalties were overstated on these items. We were a little disappointed to receive penalties under an increased fine structure that did not exist at the time of the accident and retroactively increased the fine by nearly 80 percent in our case. Local OSHA officials indicated that this was mandated by national policy.”

Matthiae said it’s unclear exactly how the fatal accident occurred.

“The unfortunate accident involved a crane on a metal treatment system that was being operated like every other system of its type worldwide for many years,” he said in the statement. “It is not clear why the team member was in the location on the machine at the time of the accident. We understand OSHA only has the power to propose citations against employers in these situations, not assign blame or responsibility for the accident, or cite those who design or build the equipment or structures. The proposed citations are used by OSHA to make sure deficiencies are corrected, regardless of blame.”

He also said Crystal Finishing Systems has corrected the problems at the plant.

“Based upon discussions with OSHA, we have already worked with outside parties and made sure that any deficiencies noted by OSHA have been and continue to be eliminated,” he said. “We have been working and very cooperative with OSHA over the past 23 years, and we are confident this matter will be resolved quickly based upon that cooperative effort.”

Matthiae also extended condolences to Ollhoff’s family.

“Finally, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family of the team member, especially during this holiday season,” he said.

 

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