Danville Goodyear plant fined over recent employee deaths

DANVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Danville, Virginia has been fined more than $1 million by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) program, after several deaths at the plant over the past year.

VOSH found 6 “willful” violations and more than one hundred “serious” violations, after comprehensive health and safety inspections. A release from VOSH says, “Among the more serious violations cited, were instances of improper machine guarding and violations of lockout/tag out requirements. These standards require that dangerous machinery is guarded to prevent accidental contact and that all of a machine’s energy sources are de-energized and locked out to prevent inadvertent movement while workers are exposed to hazards when servicing or repairing machinery. Workers exposed to machinery without energy-control devices are in jeopardy of losing a limb or even their life.”

On Aug. 31, 2015, 56-year-old Jeanie Strader was killed at the facility. VOSH issued $16,975 in penalties in that case. On March 21, 2016, Kevin Edmonds was killed. On April 12, 2016, 53-year-old Greg Cooper, an 18-year-employee of the plant, died from burns and drowning when his body was found in a pit containing boiling water and oil. VOSH issued a $152,600 fine in Cooper’s case. VOSH was investigating Edmonds’ and Cooper’s deaths when 47-year-old William Scheier was killed on Aug. 12, 2016. Scheier got caught in a machine, and the investigation into his death is still ongoing.

“We are very saddened at the loss of life at the Goodyear-Danville Plant and express our deepest sympathies to the families, co-workers and management of the plant”, said Commissioner C. Ray Davenport. “While the citations and penalties issued in the inspections to date indicate that very serious problems appear to have existed for an extended period of time at the plant, the Department intends to work closely with Goodyear, the United Steelworkers and site employees and managers to enhance the site’s safety and health management systems and workplace culture. We strive every day to assure to the extent possible that every Virginia worker returns home safe and healthy at the end of their work shift.”

Goodyear Tire and Rubber has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with VOSH’s Roanoke Regional Director, or contest the citations and penalties. To see specific reports on the fines issued, click here. You can see the full new release on today’s fine by clicking here.

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