Tragic Fatality at Alabama Manufacturing Plant Reveals Safety Lapses

A worker checking an unconscious worker in a factory


In industries utilizing complex and high-powered equipment, proper machine guarding, and hazardous energy control are critical issues that need to be addressed in order to keep the workplace safe for employees. Due to negligence in these essential precautions, a tragic incident occurred at Cullman Casting Corp, A 38-year-old worker died due to negligence in workplace safety protocols. Keep reading to understand how rigorous safety procedures are important for worker's protection and to avoid such incidents.

Incident Details:

A tragedy struck on 31st Aug 2023 when a production supervisor got crushed by a machine, leading to his death. According to OSHA, Micheal Thompson, a production supervisor, tried to repair the mold machine's film. He was operating a Traverse machine; while trying to adjust the machine's film, as he moved towards the pit, Thompson's head got caught inside the pit in the machine's edge of the flask and the back of the metal bar as it completed its cycle. His head got crushed, ultimately leading to his death.

OSHA's Findings:

Cullman Casting Corp, a North Vernon Industry Corp subsidiary, specializes in iron foundry operations, utilizing vacuum-process molding for counterbalance products. A comprehensive investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed several safety violations committed by Cullman Casting Corp. The investigation by OSHA concluded that Cullman Casting exposed their workers repeatedly to hazards. They did not de-energize and lock out the automated molding machine as workers cleaned and performed maintenance.

OSHA's key findings include:

  • There are no written lockout/tagout procedures.
  • No regular inspections of lockout/tagout procedures were conducted.
  • Employees were inadequately trained in lockout/tagout procedures.
  • No proper machine guarding for workers in hazardous areas.

Director's Concerns:

Joel Batiz, the OSHA's Area Office Director in Birmingham, was deeply concerned about this incident.

He mentioned the importance of prioritizing safety in the manufacturing industry and the severe repercussions of not following the safety protocols.

Enforcement Action:

As a result of the investigation, OSHA has issued Cullman Casting Corp with six serious violations and proposed penalties totaling $95,981 by federal regulations.

Lockout/Tag-Out Procedures

The safety practices and standards used to shut off the machines completely so that they are incapable of releasing abrupt energy during maintenance activities are called Lockout/tagout (LOTO). The LOTO procedures include isolating and shutting the machines from their energy sources and placing locks and tags to avoid accidental machine starting. These procedures ensure that all the energy sources in the machine are safely controlled. The main purpose of LOTO is to protect the workers from hazardous energy releases that can lead to serious injuries or fatalities.

Following is the 8 Lockout/Tagout Procedures to control the hazardous energy of machines:

Step 1: Notify Relevant Employees

Inform all the relevant employees regarding the machine shutdown at the site.

Step 2: Check the Procedures and Hazards

If the machine needs maintenance or servicing, apply the company LOTO procedures. These LOTO procedures include the type, magnitude, and energy hazards involved, along with how to control them.

Step 3: Shut Down

Shut down the machine or equipment by using standard procedures such as pushing the STOP button or flipping a switch.

Step 4: Isolate the Machine from the Energy Source

Energy-isolating devices are used to isolate the machine and prevent physical energy transmission.

Step 5: Apply Lockout/Tagout Devices

Apply lockout devices such as safety padlocks. This holds the energy-isolating devices in the OFF position.

For tagout, attach a tagout device to show that the equipment must not be operated until the tag is removed.

Step 6: Check the Stored Energy

Drain or deplete all the residual energy from the equipment to ensure its controlled state.

Step 7: Verify Isolation

Test the equipment to make sure it is not connected to the energy source. Operate the equipment to ensure that there is no residual hazardous energy left.

Step 8: Turn On the Equipment

After maintenance, turn on the equipment and inform the workers that it is ready to use.

How do we Ensure Safer Workplaces?

We at HAZWOPER-OSHA Training LLC are committed to providing quality courses and training to employers and employees. Our OSHA Forklift Safety Training and OSHA Lockout Tagout (LOTO) Training are among several courses we have designed to help understand and implement safety practices mandated by OSHA. By enrolling in these courses, you can cut down the risk of tragic accidents, life losses, and the likelihood of hefty fines.


This incident strongly emphasizes the need for strict safety protocols in industrial workplaces. OSHA requires employers to implement the recommended and proper machine-guarding protocols at the worksite. Also, it is the duty of employers to train their employees in LOTO procedures and other relevant training to ensure their safety.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 21st March 2024, US Department of Labor finds Alabama forklift parts manufacturer could have prevented 38-year-old foundry worker's fatal injuries,

U.S Department of Labour, 29th, Feb 2024,https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20240321-0

AL.com, March 21, 2024, OSHA proposes fining Alabama business $96,000 after deadly workplace accident, https://www.al.com/business/2024/03/osha-proposes-fining-alabama-business-96000-after-deadly-workplace-accident.html

WAFF, Feb. 17, 2024, OSHA: Man killed in Cullman Casting Corporation accident had head crushed https://www.waff.com/2024/02/16/osha-man-killed-cullman-casting-corporation-accident-had-head-crushed/

BRADY, Lockout tagout procedures Controlling hazardous energy in 8 steps https://www.bradyid.com/resources/lockout-tagout-procedures

Published on: June 11, 2024