A 6,000-pound bar of steel struck and killed a 22-year-old employee of Acme Galvanizing Inc. The Milwaukee man, an employee of the company for just a few months, had been standing in a no-operators-allowed area beneath a massive steel bar, which had been suspended by a crane when the workplace accident occurred.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner reported that the accident at the south side facility happened around 4 a.m. on a recent weekday morning. The novice crane operator was standing in an area that was supposed to be off limits to employees, when the bar came loose somehow and fell on top of him. The report noted that the 3-ton steel piece, suspended about 10-to-15 feet above the ground, had not been safely secured to an overhead crane.

The death of the Franklin High School graduate, who was hired by Acme Galvanizing Inc. in the middle of March, is under investigation by local and federal law and safety enforcement agencies. The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office, Milwaukee police investigators and the regional office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration are all conducting investigations into the tragic accident.

Acme Galvanizing, in the 2700 block of South 19th Street, had been visited by OSHA three times in the last decade. The most recent inspection of the industrial plant was the result of a complaint. The federal agency cited the company for four safety violations. Fines exceeding $3,700 were reduced to $1,400 through agency negotiations.

Six years ago during a routine inspection, Acme was fined almost $16,000 by OSHA for 21 violations. The company ended up paying a little more than $2,600 for the violations.

Workplace accidents like this one can be extremely dangerous. Often employees are required to work alongside large and dangerous equipment. If the equipment does not have proper safety protection or workers are not properly trained to work with and around the equipment, accidents can occur. In these cases, workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Source: Journal Sentinel, “Man, 22, killed in south side industrial accident,” Gitte Laasby, 7 June 2011