July 7, 1999
Kaiser cited for three serious safety violations
Degloving accident investigated by Labor and Industries
Julie Sullivan - The Spokesman-Review
Spokane _ Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. has been cited for three
serious safety violations related to the degloving of a worker who was
filling in during the strike.
The Washington Department of Labor and Industries on July 2 fined the
company $5,610 for failing to properly train an employee, enclose rolling
equipment and properly construct equipment rotating near workers.
The company has 15 days to appeal.
Inspectors visited the Spokane plant Jan. 4, four days after Philip C.
Autio, 39, had both hands caught in equipment he was cleaning on the coater
line at the Trentwood rolling mill. Autio suffered degloving injuries --
the stripping of skin and flesh -- and the amputation of some of his
fingers. He killed himself June 18 in California, apparently distraught
over his injuries.
After a nearly six-month investigation, state inspectors found three
violations and registered the company's safety history as "poor." That
designation is given when a company "has just not shown a good or average
faith effort in the past to provide a safe work place," said Steve
Valandra, spokesman for Labor and Industries.
Inspectors said that in the three years prior to the accident, there had
been more than 1,700 workmen's compensation claims filed against Kaiser
Aluminum statewide, 27 serious and nine general safety violations, and two
On Tuesday, Kaiser spokeswoman Susan Ashe said the company had not received
the state's notice of citation issued Friday and couldn't comment until
safety officials at Trentwood had seen the document. In February, it noted
the 1998 year-end recordable injuries were consistent with year-end
experiences over the last six years.
The company is now in the ninth month of a labor dispute with 3,000 United
Steelworkers in three states, about 2,100 of them in Spokane. The company
rejected the union's offer to return to work in January, locking them out.
The coater line is a massive and complex area at the Trentwood mill that
makes the coated aluminum for pop and beer can lids.
The single giant machine takes 60-inch wide coils of aluminum and runs them
through a nearly 3,000-foot long process, which cleans the metal, coats it
with vinyl, cures, trims and waxes it.
According to state reports, inspectors say Kaiser:
* Did not ensure training on how to properly clean and inspect the rolls on
the coating machine that would preclude any employee from placing any body
part in a hazardous area. There is no guarding present nor were any
procedural or mechanical changes made since the accident. Penalty: $1,870.
* Did not ensure that the inclined shafting driving the pickup, metering
and application rolls for the bottom roll assembly of the coating machine
was enclosed with stationary casing. Penalty: $1,870.
* Did not ensure that couplings at the drive shaft ends were constructed so
as to not have revolving surfaces which could cause serious injuries.
Autio had been a Kaiser employee six years in Pleasanton, Calif., when he
was assigned to Spokane after the United Steelworkers struck Sept. 30.
According to inspection reports, he was working as a coater operator for
about two months when the accident occurred.
Autio was interviewed by Washington state officials before his death, as
were other employees at the Trentwood plant.
<367>Memo: An investigation worksheet on the accident concludes there were
environmental and human factors involved, including Autio misjudging a
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