Shelbyville glass factor Pilkington cited for safety violations before worker death, records show
Company appeals fines
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. - A Shelbyville glass factory where a worker was killed and another was seriously injured had serious safety violations prior to the incidents, records show.
The Call 6 Investigators submitted a records request to the Indiana Department of Labor, and this spring, the agency released hundreds of photos and documents in connection with the Pilkington investigations, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reports.
In September 2010, worker Kelly Caudill died when he was crushed in a piece of machinery. In October 2012, worker Steve Webster was injured when he became stuck in a press at the plant.
Public records show safety issues at the factory even before the death and injury.
In 2000, after a planned inspection, the state cited Pilkington for 12 non-serious violations and five serious safety violations, including issues for apparatus, cutting and welding and fire extinguishers.
Pilkington paid $1,090 in fines and agreed to fix the safety problems.
"They took care of those safety issues," Indiana Department of Labor spokesperson Bob Dittmer said. "They did abate the things we found, and we were satisfied with that."
Also, just a month before Kelly Caudill's death in 2010, the state cited Pilkington for five serious violations following an employee complaint and inspection, including unsecured materials and raised areas without guard rails.
Records show Pilkington paid $1,137.50 in connection with those violations.
The state has conducted eight investigations at Pilkington North America since the year 2000, totaling $856,518.75 in fines, Dittmer said.
Dittmer said the company's record is concerning.
"What's really not normal is the series of investigations we've had to conduct," he said. "That's unusual, and that's of concern."
Pilkington has paid 3 percent of the issued fines.
The company is appealing the three most recent safety orders, which make up the bulk of the fines.
"They could have settled it. They could've chosen abatement and paid the penalties, but they chose to appeal, and that's their right," Dittmer said.
Records and photos just released to RTV6 show some Pilkington workers were not properly trained on locking out, or stopping a machine properly.
"I had no way to verify I had correct shutoff," read a worker's written statement to the Indiana Department of Labor in 2012.
"No, I have never been instructed on proper lockout of robot system," read another worker's written statement to the state.
Pilkington and the union did not respond to requests for an on-camera interview, but they released a joint statement.
"Pilkington North America has been working with the United Steelworkers at the Shelbyville, Ind., facility to develop solutions in the safety area that work well to prevent future injuries and also satisfy any requirements IOSHA has as well," spokeswoman Roberta Steedman wrote in an email to RTV6.
United Steel Workers local President Keith Coon told Kenney the union and Pilkington have agreed to a contract that Coon hopes will increase safety.
"It included new provisions, such as a full time Union Safety Representative, and OSHA 10 hour training for employees," Coon wrote in an email to RTV6.
Coon said the union has been asking Pilkington to boost safety, and in turn, the company has invested in safety features and additional training.
"(Pilkington) sent us a spreadsheet about what they plan to do, but other than that, we really haven't seen any documented evidence they've made safety changes that will affect the citations we gave them," Dittmer said.
Hearings before the Board of Safety Review are scheduled for January 2014, Dittmer said.
"We will conduct additional safety inspections to make sure they accomplish what they said they're going to accomplish," Dittmer said. "They're not given a free ride."
The state of Indiana reported 122 occupational fatalities in 2011, up from 118 fatalities in 2010.
Manufacturing fatalities decreased in 2011 from 14 in 2010 to 13 in 2011, according to the Indiana Department of Labor.
"We haven't gotten to zero, and that's where we want to go," Dittmer said. "That's what the Department of Labor is all about, and we're trying to focus on the health and safety of Indiana employees."
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