Tennessee Worker Killed in Accident at Manufacturing Company

by Michael D. Ponce & Associates

emergencyTennessee officials have fined a Chattanooga manufacturing company nearly $16,000 for safety violations related to the death of a plant worker this past spring. Larry Chubbs, 54, was killed on May 7, 2012, when a panel of the catwalk on a large machine at TAG Manufacturing became dislodged, dropping him into the fast-moving machinery below. The worker's body was discovered two hours after the deadly accident occurred, when he missed a weekly safety meeting. If you have been seriously injured in a workplace accident in Nashville, or elsewhere in Tennessee, consult our knowledgeable lawyers at Michael D. Ponce & Associates for legal help. You may have grounds to file a workers' compensation claim with your employer's insurance carrier, in order to pursue compensation for accident-related damages, and our attorneys can help.

Manufacturing Plant Cited for Safety Violations

After investigating the circumstances surrounding the worker's death, the Tennessee Department of Labor fined TAG Manufacturing $14,500 for five safety violations categorized as "serious," and an additional $1,350 for nine "nonserious" violations. "TAG did not furnish employment or a place of employment that were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees, in that employees were exposed to the hazard of falling into the [machine]," the primary citation reads. One of Chubbs' main tasks was to run a blaster machine called a Wheelabrator, which cleaned large pieces of steel. The job required him to walk out onto a catwalk panel to blow off the parts emerging from the cleaner and hook them with a nylon strap. According to a state examiner, none of the bar grating panels on the catwalk where the devastating accident occurred were bracketed, welded or bolted in place; the panels would only have had to shift slightly for them to detach.

Penalties Appealed by Manufacturing Company

In addition to safety violations regarding the catwalk, the manufacturing company was also cited for missing boards or railings guarding runways along heavy machinery, and for not establishing specific lockout-tagout procedures for the Wheelabrator equipment. For the company's part, the attorney for TAG Manufacturing has said, "This was a horrible accident – a perfect storm of unlikely events. And this has been devastating to the owners of this company, because they knew Larry and liked him. To say we put him on a machine that we knew had this level of danger and that we didn't care is highly offensive." In light of these claims, TAG has appealed four of the penalties levied against the company, and the appeal is being handled by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Contact Our Attorneys Today for Legal Help

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace accidents related to fabricated metal manufacturing resulted in 47 deaths across the country in 2010, which represents 1% of all work-related fatalities that year. In the Chattanooga, Tennessee area alone, there have been three fatal workplace accidents this year, including the death of Chubbs and of two construction workers who recently fell from scaffolding at a chemical plant. If you have suffered serious injuries in an on-the-job accident in Tennessee, or if you lost a loved one in such an accident, contact our qualified attorneys at Michael D. Ponce & Associates to discuss possible workers' compensation benefits. You may be entitled to medical or death benefits for your losses, intended to cover the cost of medical bills, missed time at work and funeral and burial costs, and our lawyers can help you pursue these benefits.