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Wilmerding man killed when crane dislodges 5,000 pound steel coil

A tragic accident has taken the life of a 60-year-old Wilmerding man who had worked for around 30 years at the manufacturing plant where he died. The fatal industrial accident occurred Monday morning at Plum Corp., a company located in the Hempfield Industrial Park in Greensburg, which has about 15 employees.

Sadly, no one witnessed the fatal accident. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, the man was found at around 9:30 a.m. on Monday. Plum Corp. manufactures metal roofing and siding products for industrial and commercial uses. At this facility, apparently, 5,000- to 10,000-pound metal coils were stored in stacks.

To move the coils, workers must use a 15-ton, overhead crane which apparently is operated from the ground level. The Wilmerding man was apparently moving a 10,000-pound coil of metal when, it is believed, another coil, this one weighing 5,000 pounds, became dislodged from the stack. It slid down and crushed the man against another stack of metal coils.

Because there were no witnesses, the information is based largely on the observations of State Police investigators' and the results of an autopsy by the Westmoreland County Coroner. The coroner confirmed that the man had been crushed between two steel coils and that his death had been accidental.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will also investigate the fatal accident, which is typical in industrial accidents involving injuries or deaths. No timeline for OSHA's investigation was released.

That investigation will likely focus on a number of issues. Was it safe to store the enormous coils in stacks? Were appropriate steps taken to ensure the coils would not slip or topple? Were all possible safety precautions taken to prevent the loss of life should one of the coils be dislodged?

In a small company, the loss of a 30-year veteran employee will undoubtedly be met with profound grief by his coworkers. We wish his family and friends the very best as they deal with this tragedy.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Man crushed to death in Hempfield industrial accident," Molly Born, Feb. 4, 2013

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