November 11, 2023
3M Company, one of the world's best known manufacturing companies, could have prevented an employee at a southwestern Wisconsin manufacturing plant from suffering fatal injuries after becoming caught in a machine's rotating rollers in May 2023 by following federal workplace safety regulations.
OSHA began an investigation after 3M reported the death at its Prairie du Chien facility. OSHA inspectors learned the employee was helping to set up a plastic extrusion line when they became caught.
The agency determined 3M violated federal regulations for the control of hazardous energy during setup, servicing, and operation of the machine. The incident followed the company's assessment of equipment at its US and Canadian plants in May 2022 after a fatality at a 3M facility in Alexandria, MN, in February 2022.
"The tragedy of another employee's death in Wisconsin is compounded by the fact that the 3M Company completed a corporate-wide review and determined powered rollers were hazards in need of safety improvements," explained OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan in Chicago. "The company must address these hazards immediately to protect employees from serious injuries or worse."
OSHA cited the company for two willful safety violations and assessed $312,518 in proposed penalties.
Federal investigators found the company failed to use procedures for the control of hazardous energy and did not implement energy control application steps when employees set up the production line by threading through powered rollers by hand. They also determined the 3M plant allowed workers to circumvent machine guarding to cut and remove wrapped fibers from rotating powered rollers and to remove fibers from the floor, which exposed them to caught-in hazards.
Based in Maplewood, MN, 3M Co. was founded more than 100 years ago and operates 40 production plants with about 34,000 employees in the US, including about 500 at the Prairie du Chien facility.
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