JEFFERSONVILLE — A Jeffersonville production facility where a worker died in February has been issued fines totaling $14,000 by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The safety order stated that Valmont Coatings was in violation of codes related to maintaining a safe workplace leading up to the death of 49-year-old Marion Fletcher.
According to the report, the machinery that Fletcher was operating was not properly guarded to prevent employees from getting caught during its cycle. Fletcher was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and had unrestrained hair at the time of the incident.
The two violations were deemed "serious" and carried a penalty of $7,000 each, to be resolved by May 9.
Scott Shook, Valmont's corporate director of safety, said the company is fully cooperating with IOSHA.
Valmont can dispute the penalties with IOSHA in two ways. The formal avenue is initiated by filing a petition for review. The company can bypass this by requesting an informal conference, which would allow representatives to meet with IOSHA and settle the dispute without the elaborate proceedings of a formal dispute.
Included with the safety order was a prior notice to Valmont employees regarding an informal conference that had been scheduled for April 4. Neither IOSHA nor Valmont were able to confirm whether the conference had taken place as of Friday.
According to IOSHA representative Stephanie McFarland, the purpose of an informal conference is not explicitly defined.
"An informal conference can entail a number of things," McFarland said. "It could be a company wanting to get clarity about the violations. It could be a company wanting to understand more about the investigation. It could be a discussion about the settlement. It's not a formal action to protest like the petition for review."
On the morning of Feb. 20, the Jeffersonville Fire Department responded to Valmont, which is located on Brown Forman Road at the Ports of Indiana. Responders confirmed upon arrival that a man in his 40s, later identified as Fletcher, was unconscious and unresponsive from "an apparent industrial accident." Shook said Fletcher had worked at Valmont for approximately nine months.
Valmont, which has locations around the world, specializes in hot-dip galvanizing and protective coatings for steel. Shook said he is not aware of any past incidents at the Jeffersonville location. A search of online IOSHA records dating back to 2010 did not show any safety violations for the facility.