Local company cited for safety violations in worker’s death

A West Carrollton business has been cited for willful and serious safety violations in the electrocution death of a 33-year-old worker from Butler County.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also found its Middletown parent company committed three serious safety violations in the October 2014 death of Geoffrey S. Garnett of Somerville, according to information released Thursday.

Metal Shredders Inc., 5101 Farmersville-West Carrollton Road, has been found with one willful and eight serious safety violations involving electrical safe work practices following the Oct. 16 electrocution of Garnett, according to OSHA.

The agency has proposed penalties of $115,000 to the company. OSHA has also issued Cohen Brothers, Metal Shredders’ parent company, three serious safety violations for failing to train employees in electrical safe work practices, with proposed penalties of $21,000.

“This was a tragic death that could have been prevented by following basic safety practices for working with high voltage transmission lines,” said Ken Montgomery, OSHA area director in Cincinnati.

“Employers who work with high voltage electricity must train workers in recognizing hazards and proper procedures to de-energize lines, and ensure the working environment is safe,” he added. “No workers should lose their life on the job.”

The companies plan to challenge the findings, according to a statement by Cohen Brothers.

OSHA “issued incorrect and unfounded citations today against our company for the October accident that took the life of Geff Garnett,” according to the statement Thursday from Cohen. “ We strongly dispute the citations but are continuing to cooperate with OSHA to bring about the withdrawal of the citations

“Safety is the core value of Cohen Recycling and we have a long-standing and recognized commitment to the health and safety of our employees,” the statement continued. “We remain deeply saddened by this tragic loss. We consider all employees of the Cohen companies to be part of the Cohen family, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone who is suffering this loss with us.

Investigators found Metal Shredders failed to verify that electrical lines were absent of voltage after turning off the disconnect switch inside the transformer substation cabinet, resulting in a willful violation, according to OSHA.

Garnett, a 10-year employee, attempted to enter the substation by climbing over a concrete wall and fence on the side of the transformer substation and his foot touched the electrical line, which was still energized, and was electrocuted, the agency said.

Prior to the accident, Cohen has never had a citation from the OSHA, but Metal Shredders Inc., has, according to OSHA.

Metal Shredders had one serious citation in July 2013 for not having grounded outlets and not having a mid-guard rail on a catwalk. The company was fined $7,650, but settled for a $2,600 fine, according to OSHA.

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