August 14, 2014 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 5Comment

Erik Deighton’s work-related death could have been prevented. That’s how I see the findings of Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) in the agency’s citations against his employer, Colonial Plastics (here, here). The 23-year-old was working at the firm’s Shelby Township, Michigan location in March 2014 when he suffered fatal traumatic injuries involving a stamping press. I wrote about the incident shortly after it was reported by local press.

MIOSHA conducted an inspection of the worksite following Deighton’s death. The agency recently issued citations to Colonial Plastics for seven serious violations and proposed a $20,850 penalty. Those violations include failing to comply with several of MIOSHA’s safety regulations which specifically address plastic molding operations, such as:

R 408.16211: An employer shall provide training to an employee regarding the operating procedures,  hazards, and safeguards of any assigned job.

R 408.16226(5) When used, interlocks shall be installed to minimize the possibility of accidental operation or tampering.

R 408.16227(2) …each employee doing the work shall lock out the power source of the machine or equipment to be repaired or serviced if unexpected motion would cause injury. Any residual pressure which would be hazardous shall be relieved before and remain relieved during work by an employee doing the work.

R 408.16234(6) When purging an injection molding machine, an employee shall be protected from the purging splatter by a shield that is fixed, portable, or worn on the employee. The same guarding shall be used when servicing a heated runner manifold nozzle.

When the incident was initially reported, Shelby Township Police Captain Stephen Stanbury told the press,

“This is totally an accident.”

He added:

“I don’t think it’s a sloppy operation from what our guys found at Colonial Plastics.”

MIOSHA’s findings tell a different story. Call it sloppy, call it poor management, call it breaking the law. Whatever you want to call it, Erik Deighton’s work-related death could have been prevented.

5 thoughts on “Fatal work injury that killed Erik Deighton, 23, was preventable, MIOSHA cites Colonial Plastics

  1. He was my brother, and one of the kindest, deepest souls on Earth. He was so creative. He drew, read, and sang at the top of his lungs. He was my mom and dad’s only son, and she worked so hard to make sure he graduated high school and was on the path to success. He got this job after having a misguided period in his youth where he, like other boys, was rowdy and challenged authority. However, he finally was on the right track and working hard at a job that made decent money, which he was so proud of. He worked midnights, 12 hours straight, 5 to 6 days a week, and the factory he worked at was understaffed. His death was most certainly preventable. And now I and my family have to live out the rest of our lives without him. And truly, he was the only one who insisted upon making life joyful. I won’t ever forget him and I won’t ever forgive this.

  2. Lauren,
    Thank you so very much for sharing with us a little more about your brother. Your words tell me that he had a vibrant spirit, was loved dearly, and is missed terribly. Your recollection of his long hours of work and the factory being understaffed is not something that our government safety agencies like OSHA and MIOSHA consider when assessing the safety program of a company—but they should! It adds even more to the evidence that your brother’s death was preventable. I am so sorry for your loss.

  3. Erik was a wonderful person, who loved everyone and was willing to help anyone in need. It is disgusting that this horrible company was fined such a rediculously low amount over the loss of such a amazing person, who should have had many more years ahead of him.

  4. Carrie,
    OSHA penalties are ridiculously low. Michigan lawmakers have the power to increase the penalty amounts or set minimum penalties for worker deaths, but they haven’t done so. You will honor your friend’s memory by speaking out about it. He had so much life ahead of him.

  5. I actually worked at that place and none of the management cares at all about their staff. It’s indescribable about how much they could care less about their employees, management screaming in your face blaming everyone but them selves I’ve seen the foreman at the Mold shop shove another employee into the door and wall and knocked down ceiling tiles. Worst environment I’ve ever been apart of. Erik was an amazing guy and went out o his way to make things happen and people happen very sad this happened I remember skateboarding during lunch with him we had alot of fun…one of the best guys that place could have his death was 100% preventable

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