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Worker caught in press machine, killed in industrial accident

Heavy machinery used to shape materials can cause serious harm to workers. Machines that stamp, press or crush expose Houston workers to crushed fingers, hands or worse.

In an example of a deadly industrial accident from outside of Texas, a man was killed earlier in March when he was caught in a malfunctioning press machine and crushed. Police are calling this horrific incident an accident, but questions of whether the victim received reasonable safety protections remain.

The press machine became stuck due to an obstruction. The victim went into the machine to try to clear the obstruction. Apparently, nobody turned off the machine; it activated while the man was still under the press and crushed him to death.

Someone called 911, and emergency responders rushed to the plant, which manufactures plastic automobile parts. The victim was already dead. He was 23.

It seems that the most obvious question about this terrible case is, why was the machine allowed to stay on while the victim was trying to repair it? If turning it off was not an option, why was the victim put in a position where he could be caught in the press? Were there no other ways to clear the obstruction that would not have put anyone in danger of death? Do protective devices or equipment exist that could have protected the victim, and if so, why was he not provided with these?

A business does not have to purposely kill an employee to be responsible for his wrongful death. Under civil law, a negligent employer can be financially liable for a worker killed on the job.

Source: Detroit Free Press, “Worker crushed to death by stamping press at Macomb County auto parts supplier,” Christina Hall, March 5, 2014

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