Vorteq Coil Finishers in Valencia, Pennsylvania, was fined $345,000 and deemed a ‘severe violator’ following the death of one of its workers in 2023.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that Vorteq could have prevented a 46-year-old supervisor from suffering fatal injuries in September 2023 by following required safety standards.

Vorteq has 10 coil coating lines in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, California, and Mexico. Investigators with OSHA fatality investigation determined the Vorteq employee was instructed to clean a chrome roller on a coater machine while in operation. The agency says the employee was pulled into the machine and suffered fatal injuries.

According to a statement from OSHA, the company was cited “for two willful and two serious violations based, in part, for failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures and not installing machine guarding.” OSHA has also proposed $345,685 in penalties and has placed the company in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Vorteq Coil Finishers’ failure to value employee safety created conditions that cost a worker his life,” says Christopher Robinson, OSHA Area Office Director in Pittsburgh. “This incident, and the company’s history of similar incidents and serious injuries at this and other plants, emphasize the crucial need for a shift in company culture to make worker safety and health a core workplace principle. OSHA will continue to monitor and hold the company accountable until there are sufficient changes.”

Robinson says in the news release, “All evidence gathered during the inspection revealed that management employees at the highest level of the plant knew how dangerous it was to clean this machine while it was operating but required employees to do so to minimize downtime and maximize production.”

OSHA says Vorteq has “15 business days from receipt of the citation and proposed penalties to comply and submit payment or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.”