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Published: Friday, 7/22/2011

Defiance firm cited, fined in fatal Jan. accident

Plant to pay $159,600 for various violations

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

A Defiance company that applies coatings to metal parts used by the automotive and other industries has been fined $159,600 by a federal agency for numerous safety violations found during an investigation and inspection that occurred in January.

The probe began after an industrial accident killed a 21-year-old worker using a metal grinding wheel at the plant.

Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found two "willful" violations, 12 "serious" violations, and two "other" violations at Advantage Powder Coating Inc. The Jan. 24 inspection occurred after Alex Bevins of Defiance died when the 14-inch grinding wheel he was using exploded and he was struck by pieces of the wheel.

Vanessa Martin, acting area director of the OSHA office in Toledo, said the investigation indicated the grinding wheel's safety guards were not properly adjusted.

"It's one of those kind of things that doesn't happen that often or when it does you only get cuts and minor injuries. But in this case it resulted in the death of the young man who was working on it," Ms. Martin said.

"From the way that we put our standards in place, if employers followed these guidelines, [workers should be protected]. We do feel that this was preventable."

Officials of Advantage Powder did not return calls seeking comment on whether they intend to contest the OSHA fine. The agency's citation and fine were issued July 15 and the Defiance-based firm has until early August to seek a conference with OSHA to contest the fine and citations.

In the citations, the company was fined $56,000 for each of its two "willful" violations, the agency's most severe violation category. The two violations dealt with safety hazards involving the grinder that killed Mr. Bevins.

Many of the "serious" violations also pertained to safety hazards of grinding wheels used by the company.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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