Seven men dead after work place accidents in north Alabama since August

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:20 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - There’s a concerning trend in the Tennessee Valley.

Alabamians pride themselves on being in the top 10 on the field, but the state also makes the top 10 in an area you don’t want to be known for: the state with one of the most work related injuries and deaths.

“For once, unlike Alabama, auburn football, I don’t want to be in the top ten with OSHA,” Donald Elswick, executive director of University of Alabama’s Safe State Program.

Since August, we’ve reported on seven work related deaths.

The first two men died in August and September after a chemical exposure at Daikin America in Decatur in July.

Next a worker died after a vehicle crushed him at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on August 28.

Then a man died when a trench collapsed at John Hunt Park in Huntsville on September 2.

A Texas contractor died being hit by a forklift at Nucor Steel in Trinity on September 20.

Another man was run over by heavy equipment at Imperial Aluminum in Scottsboro about a week later.

And the most recent death was last Friday; a man died at a rock quarry site when his equipment slipped into 80 feet of water.

OSHA is investigating some of these deaths, but Donald Elswick, the executive director for the University fo Alabama’s Safe State program says it’s his goal to keep them from happening in the first place.

“Think about that one death if it were your brother, your significant other, your dog, your cat, whoever matters to me. Think about that impact on a family,” Elswick said.

UA Safe State has a team of highly trained and certified safety consultants that travels around the state to different work sites.

The OSHA consultation is free, but this group is not OSHA.

“We are not, repeat not the enforcement or the regulatory. We help them identify things that will prevent a serious injury or fatality and we do require that they correct those. If they have an issue, we can help them solve it and give them solutions to do that,” Elswick said.

Elswick says since 1978 they’ve only had two companies who have refused to correct an issue.

They also offer training courses that range from $100 a day to $700 for five days.

“We want to produce a safe and helpful work place because at that point. Truly, your business will flourish. Don’t let cost stop you if you need training. Talk to me. We can work with you to get those employees trained,” he said.

You can learn more about the program here.

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