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Investigation of GE incident ends

Posted by nahetsblog on March 8, 2010

OSHA issues no ruling in the death of Erie man

By JIM MARTIN

OSHA has no plans to levy fines or issue a report in the death of Huff, who was killed Jan. 11 while operating a crane at the Lawrence Park Township plant.

"There are not going to be any OSHA violations issued on the case," said Theresa A. Naim, area director for the agency.

"We looked at every aspect," she added. "We looked at the mechanicals, the equipment, the workplace, the training, the emergency response. There were not any issues that we found that the company failed to do."

In fact, she said, many of GE’s standards exceed OSHA guidelines.

OSHA’s conclusion wasn’t far from the one that GE Transportation reached with its own internal inquiry that was concluded Jan. 22.

"It came down to a truly tragic accident," said Shaun Francis, the company’s general manager of human resources.

In its own investigation, which called on both internal sources and outside experts, GE Transportation concluded that Huff, who was using a remote control to operate a crane, had placed a 7,000-pound alternator on a platform about 20 inches off the ground.

The company concluded that he had disconnected the hooks that been used to lift the frame, but when he attempted to lift the crane, one of the hooks became snagged on the frame and knocked it over on top of him.

OSHA agrees with GE that there was no evidence of operator error.

But Naim said she can’t say for sure how it happened.

If OSHA were certain that a hook became snagged on the heavy frame, the agency would push for new training procedures that might prevent future problems, Naim said.

"We could not come to any specific conclusion as to how this had occurred," she said. "The case file is closed."

Francis said Monday that he wasn’t surprised by OSHA’s conclusion.

He also said the company’s focus on safety issues has been heightened in the weeks since Huff’s death.

Huff, 46, left behind a wife, Lisa McMillen Huff, and three children. She referred questions about the investigation to her brother, Michael McMillen.

McMillen said his sister had two key concerns

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