Department of Labor Logo
OSHA News Release
Region 6

Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

March 5, 2015

Worker's death in scrap metal baler could have been prevented
OSHA finds serious safety violations at Atlas Metal & Iron Corp.

DENVER – The death of a 52-year-old man, killed when a scrap metal baler started while he worked inside, could have been averted if his employer, Atlas Metal & Iron Corp., had made sure the machine was shut down properly, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has determined. After a September 2014 inspection that followed the incident, OSHA investigators found 12 safety violations at the Denver-based scrap-processing facility.

"Enclosed machinery and unprotected moving parts can be fatal," said Herb Gibson, OSHA's area director in Denver. "If Atlas Metal & Iron Corp. had followed simple, well-known safety practices for turning off machinery before allowing employees to work inside, this tragic incident could have been prevented."

Failing to lockout the energized baling machine and assess the permit-required confined space properly are two of the violations that led to the fatality. There were nine additional serious violations, including lack of proper equipment access; combustible dust accumulations; missing guardrails on working surfaces; and inadequate machine guarding. Other serious violations were a lack of engineering controls for noise exposure; lack of appropriate eye protection for cutting operations; airborne exposure to total dust above permissible limits; and deficiencies in the respiratory protection program.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. One other violation was issued for failing to provide a proper respirator. Penalties total $58,410.

Atlas Metal & Iron Corp. employs about 100 workers at its scrap metal recycling facility in Denver. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742). For northern Colorado, call the agency's Denver Area Office at 303-844-5285, and for southern Colorado, phone the agency's Englewood Area Office at 303-843-4500.

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


Media Contacts:

Diana Petterson, 972-850-4710,
Juan Rodriguez, 972-850-4709,

Release Number: 15-330-DEN

U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).