Earlier this month, a 52-year-old worker at the Goodyear plant in Danville very suddenly lost his life. The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently investigating and no details have been released. Not even a month prior to this accident, another Goodyear worker lost his life. The 54-year-old worker was mixing batches of rubber when he died of asphyxiation. And six months prior to all of this, a 56-year-old who was a windup operator lost her life in a separate workplace accident.
Goodyear has had three workplace fatalities total in eight months, two of those deaths occurred less than a month apart. As a result, both OSHA and the United Steelworkers Union are conducting investigations into the apparent lack of safety Goodyear is providing for its workers.
Unfortunately, this is not the first citation the Danville plant has received from OSHA. In 2007, another was killed at Goodyear and OSHA swiftly issued citations for the incident. In 2011, the plant was fined twice for serious health violations involving asbestos. The second citation was issued because Goodyear did not handle the asbestos, and continued to allow its workers to be exposed.
Steel workers work in high-temperature work environments to make heavy, metal parts used to construct bridges, buildings and in this case, car parts. While risks vary according to the worker’s role in the steel plant, all plant workers who handle the machinery used in manufacturing steel are typically at a high risk of asbestos exposure.
The circumstances surrounding these workplace fatalities have not been made public. However, OSHA representatives say most workplace accidents are avoidable with safe practices and compliance with OSHA standards.
It is possible for fibers from the machine to become lodged in the lungs, causing scarring and, in some cases, tumors that are eventually diagnosed as mesothelioma cancer. This is why employers must make sure steel plant workers are wearing protective garments, such as leggings, gloves, coveralls, coats and face masks to protect them from asbestos exposure. Additionally, employers must train workers on both how to operate equipment as well as the risks of asbestos exposure.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. is a personal injury law firm that helps victims of workplace accidents in the Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland areas.