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OSHA: Death at Tonawanda Coke could have been prevented

Tonawanda Coke
WBFO News file photo
Tonawanda Coke

The tragic death of a Tonawanda Coke employee last January could have been prevented. That is the conclusion of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Buffalo office following an inspection.

“These types of incidents are far too common when people are allowed to work near unguarded machinery or perform maintenance on equipment that’s not locked out,” said Michael Scime, Buffalo Area Director at OSHA.

Scime stressed Tonawanda Coke could have prevented the 'needless loss' of the worker's life. 

The incident occurred last January 6, 2016 when 60-year-old Richard Wade was pulled into a rotating shaft of a coal elevator at the River Road facility while preparing to grease and lubricate it. The worker's jacket got caught, pulling him, but the elevator was never shut-down or lockout of power.  

Tonawanda Coke was warned by OSHA during past inspections, but failed to implement proper procedures.

“What’s most sad is it is a completely preventable incident and there is a very simple solution. All you need to do is turn off the equipment, lock it out so no one else can turn it on. Had they followed these simple lockout procedures this incident not only wouldn’t have occurred, but couldn’t occur,” explained Scime.

OSHA cited Tonawanda Coke for two repeated and six serious violations of workplace safety standards. The facility has been fined $175,200

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