By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Almost five months after a 26 year-old Composite Rigging employee, Andrew Pelletier, was killed in an industrial accident, the company is now being cited with 18 serious safety violations.
The Glocester resident and 2003 graduate of Ponaganset High School had just begun working at Composite Rigging, located in West Davisville, days before his March 15 death.
Composite Rigging produces rigging for various types of sailboats.
According to North Kingstown Fire Deputy Chief Philip Aldrich, a 911 call came in at 11:27 a.m. stating that a person had been “injured by machinery”.
Pelletier and another worker were performing work on a rigging cable that had been placed in a test bed and tensioned. During this procedure, a sling holding the cable in place failed, causing the cable to shoot across the room and strike the two workers. The second worker, a 22 year-old unidentified male, was transported to Kent County Hospital with debris in his eye. Pelletier was pronounced dead at the scene.
Announced Monday, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company for 18 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards following Pelletier’s death.
According to a press release, OSHA found that the test bed guards were not utilized to prevent employees from being struck by the cable.
“Proper guarding would have kept these workers from being struck,” said OSHA’s Rhode Island Director Patrick Griffin. “I call upon Rhode Island employers using similar equipment to examine it and if necessary, take preventive measures so that similar incidents with tragic consequences do not happen again.”
In addition to the above finding, OSHA also identified several other hazardous conditions at the facility that were unrelated to the accident. They include:
* Unguarded or inadequately guarded grinders, lathes and fans,
* Misused electrical equipment,
* A powered industrial truck modified without the manufacturer’s approval,
* Lack of daily examinations of a powered industrial truck for defects,
* No suitable quick-drenching facilities for employees working with corrosive materials,
* Lack of a written respiratory protections program,
* Not conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace,
* Inadequate precautions against the ignition of flammable vapors,
* Unlabeled containers of chemicals, and
* Inadequate stair rail
Composite faces a total of $54,400 in proposed fines. Edmund Fitzgerald of OSHA, explained that citations are classified according to the nature and gravity of the hazard.
“This case, which was a serious one, carries a maximum penalty of $7,000 per citation,” he said. “I will note that the proposed penalties in no way reflect the value of human life.”
A formula is then applied that takes into account factors such as the size of the company, prior history, good faith, as well as the nature and severity of the hazards.
Composite received the citations on July 27 and has until Aug. 17 to comply and meet with OSHA’s director or contest the findings before the OSHA review commission.
This is the first time that Composite has been cited for safety violations.
Billiejean Crum, a former classmate of Pelletier’s, said he always had a smile on his face and could always make anyone laugh with his jokes.
“He’d do anything for anyone,” she said in March. “He had so many friends that appreciated him and looked up to him. We’re going to miss him tremendously.”
Under the OSHA 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.
Representatives from Composite Rigging could not be reached for comment.