product liability, industrial accident, on-the-job

Sika auto worker dies from amputation work injury

A Sika Automotive plant worker in Gastonia, North Carolina, died April 11 after suffering an accidental arm amputation while cleaning a recycling belt on the job.

Local authorities identified the Sika worker as 43-year-old Eddie Turner, a resident of Lawndale, North Carolina. He leaves behind his wife of 17 years and two teenage daughters.

The North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division is investigating the accident, but the probe could take as long as six months to complete.

According to Charlotte’s WBTV Channel 3, officials from the state’s Labor Department said a worker was killed on the job after his right arm became caught in the conveyor on a recycling belt. The injured worker was taken to Caromont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia, where he later died of his injuries.

Sika Automotive, a multinational corporation based in Switzerland, manufactures automotive sound damping material at the Gastonia plant, which employs about 150 workers. The company was formerly known as FAIST ChemTech Inc. It was acquired by Sika in January.

The company released the following statement after Mr. Turner’s death:

“The entire Sika team is deeply saddened over the tragic loss of a valued colleague and friend. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and have offered our support during this challenging time. While the cause of the incident is not yet known, we are investigating the matter carefully and will take all steps necessary to assure the continued safety of the Gastonia facility.”

Sika Automotive paid penalties of $9,225 to North Carolina’s Department of Labor in 2016 for safety violations that inspectors deemed “serious,” according to the Gaston Gazette.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), industrial accidents involving machinery typically occur when there are improper energy controls or practices in place to prevent machines from powering on when equipment is being cleaned, maintained, or serviced.

Serious injuries such as amputations and fatal accidents can also occur when machinery isn’t properly guarded.

According to OSHA, 14 U.S. workers died every day on the job (99 per week) in 2017, the last year for which final statistics are available.

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