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Henrico envelope company cited, fined for safety failures after employee crushed to death in machine

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jun 17, 2024

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -– A Henrico County envelope manufacturing business is facing fines after the state cited it with multiple safety violations following the death of an employee.

On November 29, 2023, a worker at Kenmore Envelope Company died after he got stuck waist down inside a paper baler, according to reports from the Henrico Fire Department.

Pictures collected from the scene showed a ladder that appeared to be crushed by the machine.

Kenmore Envelope Company  Ladder

“He’s crushed in a baler," an employee reported to Henrico 911 following the incident. “There's no telling how long he’s been back here. Like I said, he works back in the baler by himself.”

Following the fatality, a former employee asked CBS 6 to investigate workplace safety concerns at Kenmore Envelope.

Workplace safety violations

Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry's OSHA program, VOSH, cited Kenmore Envelope with 10 violations of safety regulations in connection to the incident.

Machines at Kenmore Envelope Company

The citations include:

  • Failure to develop "lock out" procedures to ensure the baler was shut down prior to servicing it, exposing employees to hazards while cleaning and unjamming the machine
  • Failure to ensure employees had the required knowledge and skills to safely use and remove energy controls, exposing workers to hazardous energy while they completed job duties assigned to them
  • Failure to conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures at least annually
  • Failure to determine whether equipment in the baling department were permit-confined spaces, which are defined as spaces employees can physically enter but are restrictive and contain serious health and safety hazards
  • Failure to prevent employees from accessing permit-confined spaces, as employees had access to work platforms and ladders allowing entry into the baler
  • Failure to provide required training to employees

Most of the citations were listed as "serious."
The state fined Kenmore more than $37,000 in proposed penalties. But that wasn't the first time the company was cited for violations.

Safety violations in the past

In April 2021, records showed a worker's right hand got caught in a collator machine, causing that person to lose their middle finger.

A VOSH investigation found Kenmore did not safeguard the machine, which would prevent the worker's hand from making contact with the entry point of the machine, and it failed to protect the operator from rotating parts. VOSH imposed a $26,555 fine for that violation.

Failure to guard the machine was considered a "repeat citation" because Kenmore was previously cited with that same violation during a different incident in 2018.

VOSH opened another inspection into the company after a worker's pinky finger was partially amputated in September 2021. The state received a complaint alleging employees were "bypassing" machine safety features to solve issues with the machine. However, investigators did not find any violations in connection to that complaint.

Between 2018 and 2021, records showed Kenmore Envelope reported 18 employee injuries. As of 2021, the company employed 169 workers.

CBS 6 reached out to CEO Scott Evans on multiple occasions since the November incident to request an interview or response. We have not heard back.

The company posted a statement on social media following the fatality reading, "Our deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones affected by this terrible loss."

Kenmore added it would cooperate with the appropriate agencies to determine causes and circumstances

This is a developing story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

Watch Tyler Layne's reporting on CBS 6 and WTVR.com. Have something for Tyler to investigate? Email him.

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