Tyler Pipe Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges in Employee Death

A Tyler, Texas company has pleaded guilty to criminal charges that it violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act, leading to the death of an employee. United States Magistrate Judge Judith Guthrie sentenced Tyler Pipe Co. to pay a $250,000 fine and placed the company on probation for one year.

During this one-year probation period, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will inspect the company four times. The company agreed that it will not commit a federal, state or local criminal offense during this probation period.

On June 29, 2000, Horace Hoskin, a maintenance mechanic, entered a machine pit at the Tyler facility, which is an iron foundry that produces pipes. Hoskin apparently entered the machine pit to adjust the conveyor belt running out of the pit, but the belts, pulleys and conveyors were moving and were not properly guarded. He was caught in an unguarded belt and tail pulley and was pulled into the belt and pulley system. Another employee discovered Hoskin when the conveyor belt slowed down.

OSHA inspectors arrived at the scene and conducted an investigation. Tyler was cited for 17 alleged safety and health violations. The investigation prompted then-OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress to say, "Tyler Pipe Co. is no stranger to the very danger that contributed to the death of this worker."

Less than a year before Hoskin's death, the company was cited for violating the confined space, machine guarding and lockout/tagout standards, virtually the same types of violations that lead to Hoskin's death.

"This company should be particularly aware of safety and health policies, having experienced a total of 32 OSHA inspections, including five accident investigations," Jeffress said. "But our continued visits reveal that safety has not been a primary concern to management. More than 60 percent of Tyler's maintenance employees have been injured on the job, including two fatalities and numerous amputations. This kind of indifference to worker safety is intolerable, and conditions at Tyler Pipe Co. must change."

OSHA proposed penalties of $1,015,000 for the violations found following Hoskin's death.

Tyler Pipe Co. is a wholly owned division of Ransom Industries, L.P. and has sister foundries in Allentown, Pa. and Anniston, Ala.

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