Federal investigation finds Athens lumber company ignored safety measures before employee died | News

A federal workplace safety investigation found that an Athens lumber manufacturer failed to protect its employees, ultimately resulting in the death of one employee.

Cassandra Hill, 45, was killed at Sunbelt Forest Products Corporation when she was run over by a forklift as she walked through the lumber shipping yard on November 15, 2021, according to investigators and the county coroner. Limestone.

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators said Sunbelt was endangering employees by letting them walk where forklift drivers could not see them, as well as by failing to mark traffic lanes for trucks, forklifts and pedestrians.

The company also did not require forklift drivers to maintain a clear view of the driving lane and did not remove damaged vehicles from service, according to USDOL. Some of the damaged forklifts noted in OSHA’s report had cracked windshields, a broken window, a missing rearview mirror, or a compartment door that wouldn’t stay closed.

As a result, OSHA proposed $53,866 in penalties.

“A forklift typically weighs between 4,000 and 9,000 pounds and poses a significant risk of serious injury or death to workers who may be struck by this equipment,” said OSHA Regional Office Manager Ramona. Morris. “Employers must take precautions in workplaces that use motorized industrial vehicles to avoid devastating incidents and death.”

Sunbelt has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or dispute the findings.


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Susan W. Lloyd