OSHA proposes penalties for Carlson Tool

Worker died following March incident


Cedarburg-based Carlson Tool and Manufacturing Corp. faces $124,709 in penalties after an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health and Administration prompted by the death of an employee in March.

Steve Volkmann, of West Bend, sustained a head injury from an industrial lathe at the company’s Mequon facility on March 15. He died two days later.

The company allegedly allowed a computer numerical controlled lathe to operate with its safety interlocks bypassed and Volkmann became entangled in the machine’s operating spindle, according to an OSHA statement on the investigation. The inspection also found the lathe’s door, which was intended to provide guarding, was open, OSHA said.

“Carlson Tool & Manufacturing has implemented a number of new worker safety initiatives as a result of the tragic accident earlier this year involving our colleague Steve Volkmann. These improvements have added to a vigorous safety and training program aimed at helping ensure safe operations at our facility in Cedarburg. During the OSHA review, we cooperated fully and will continue to do so as we work through the final resolution of this matter,” Jerry Edquist, Carlson Tool chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Edquist said those at the company continue to remember  Volkmann as “a valued colleague and good person.” He said those interested in supporting Volkmann’s family can make a donation to the Steve Volkmann Memorial Fund at any BMO Harris Bank branch. The company set the fund up in March after Volkmann’s death.

“All too often, OSHA finds employers are complacent with machine safety features and bypass them to speed production,” said Christine Zortman, area director of OSHA’s Milwaukee office. “This worker’s tragic death was preventable. Carlson Tool & Manufacturing must re-evaluate its overall safety and health management system, including their machine safety programs and procedures to ensure they are effective.”

OSHA proposed $124,709 in penalties for one willful and one serious violation. The company has 15 days after receiving the citations on Aug. 31 to request an informal conference with Zortman, contest the findings or comply with the citations.

OSHA records indicate the company paid a $2,500 penalty in 2014 for a violation related to the control of hazardous energy and lockout/tagout procedures. In 2010 the company paid a $700 penalty for a violation related to general machine requirements. Both violations were resolved through informal settlements.

Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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