Death of a Temporary Worker Spurs Cal/OSHA to Hit Henkel Corp. with $200,000 Fine

Sept. 11, 2013
The temporary worker was pulled into an unguarded mixer shaft at Henkel's Bay Point, Calif., plant and was unable to free himself from the shaft.

Cal/OSHA has issued $200,825 in fines to Henkel Corp. for multiple alleged serious and willful violations in the wake of the April death of a temporary worker at a Henkel facility near Oakland.

The 26-year-old temporary worker became entangled with the exposed rotating shaft of a mixer while mixing industrial adhesive, according to the agency.

Cal/OSHA alleges that Henkel failed to identify and safeguard against the hazards of working near the mixer.

"This tragedy was completely preventable, and underscores what can go wrong when employers do not take the necessary measures to correct workplace safety hazards," said Christine Baker, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA.  

As the result of a Cal/OSHA investigation, the agency cited Henkel for six serious violations – two of which are considered willful serious – as well as one general violation.

Based in Dusseldorf, Germany, Henkel has a manufacturing plant in Bay Point, Calif., where the accident occurred.

According to Cal/OSHA, the willful violations were issued for Henkel's failure to properly set up and maintain operation guards for the mixer involved, and for the failure to follow its own provisions regarding the identification and correction of serious hazards posed by the mixer.

The investigation also revealed that the company continued to operate the mixer despite knowing that the partial guard on the mixer exposed workers to dangerous moving parts, according to the agency.

The temporary worker, an Antioch, Calif., man hired by staffing agency HR Comp, was pulled into the unguarded mixer shaft and was unable to free himself from the shaft. The man subsequently died from his injuries.

One of the alleged serious violations was for the company's failure to ensure that sleeves on employee coveralls fit tightly so clothing would not get caught in machinery.

Two Staffing Firms Also Cited

Cal/OSHA also cited two professional employer organizations: HR Comp LLC, based in Tennessee; and Action Personnel Agency Inc., doing business as Staffing Solutions Group, based in Pleasant Hill, Calif.

HR Comp is an online professional employer organization (PEO) providing temporary workers for Henkel, while Staffing Solutions Group is the area PEO designated to conduct OSHA-related activities for HR Comp.

Cal/OSHA issued a $1,500 fine to each firm for allegedly failing to implement an effective written injury and illness prevention program.

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