U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

Cabinet manufacturer Oak Creations exposed Columbus, Montana, workers to fire, explosion, amputation and respiratory hazards

OSHA investigation of worker fatality uncovers 21 serious violations

BILLINGS, Mont. -- A 55-year-old finish sander died at Oak Creations Inc. after acute exposure to wood dust during his 15 years with the company.

After Tom Hegg's death on Jan. 13, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the Columbus-based business. OSHA inspectors found 21 serious safety violations that exposed workers to respiratory hazards, fire, explosion, and amputation. On July 27, OSHA issued 21 citations for the serious violations. Investigators also identified two other-than-serious violations.

'Oak Creations could have implemented simple, common-sense measures to provide a safe workplace for employees,' said Eric Brooks, OSHA's area director in Billings. 'The best way to honor Mr. Hegg is to ensure that his colleagues have a safe place to work.'

OSHA's citations include:

  • Multiple machine-guarding violations.
  • Inadequate guarding for shafts, belts and pulleys.
  • Insufficient housekeeping to address accumulating combustible wood dust.
  • Multiple electrical violations.
  • Failing to evaluate respiratory hazards.
  • Not developing a written hazard communication program.

Investigators also cited Oak Creations for failing to provide employees with information on respirators and for inadequate marking of fire exits.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/osha/OSHA20151502fs.pdf*. The proposed fine for the company is $50,000. Oak Creations has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Billings, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the Billings Area Office at 406-247-7494. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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