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July 30, 2015

Steel roller fatally crushed maintenance worker, safety guards ignored
D.R. Diedrich & Co. Ltd. cited for 19 safety violations after OSHA inspection

MILWAUKEE - Proper safety guards would have stopped a 1,500-pound steel roller before it crushed and killed a 59-year-old maintenance worker, but his employer did not use them, a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection has found.

D.R. Diedrich & Co. Ltd., a Milwaukee leather manufacturer, failed to use devices that would have stopped the roller on a tanning machine from moving during service and maintenance. The man was inspecting the machine's bearing when the tragedy occurred in Feb. 1, 2015. He suffered fatal head and neck injuries as a result. The man had been with the company for 13 years.

OSHA cited the company on July 30 for one willful and 18 serious safety violations. The agency cited a willful violation because D.R. Diedrich failed to prevent unintentional operation of machines during service and maintenance.

"Too often, we cite companies that ignore machine hazards in the hope that a tragic death like this one can be avoided," said Christine Zortman, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "Machine hazards are among the most frequently cited by OSHA. Manufacturer-installed guards and industry-standard locking devices protect workers from operating machinery. Yet, each year thousands of workers are injured or killed because employers ignore machine hazards and do not train workers on safety procedures."

Inspectors noted 19 serious safety violations at the Milwaukee facility, including:

  • Lack of machine guards.
  • Not training workers on machine safety procedures or evaluating procedures annually.
  • Absence of electrical safety work practices, including exposing workers to energized parts, and failing to provide barriers and protective clothing to prevent workers from contacting live electrical parts and improper wiring.
  • Failing to install standard railings to guard against falls of up to 5 feet from platforms and floor openings.
  • Modifying forklifts without manufacturer permission.
  • Annual audiograms for workers exposed to an average of 85 decibels annually were delinquent.
  • Not evaluating and providing training for confined space hazards, such as chrome tanks.
  • Failing to comply with respiratory protection requirements.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $169,495 to the company. To view current citations, visit*

D.R. Diedrich is a manufacturer of tanned leather for use in the automotive, furniture and shoe industries. The company has about 130 employees. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Milwaukee, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Milwaukee Area Office at 414-297-3315.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976,
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976,

Release Number: 15-1403-CHI

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