Personal Injury

Mississippi manufacturer slapped with heavy fines after worker death

ELLISVILLE, Miss. – Federal inspectors cited Howard Industries Inc. for 17 safety violations following the January death of an employee who was electrocuted while working on equipment used for testing electrical transformers. The Mississippi company develops, designs, and manufactures power transformers and employs about 170 people. In addition to its two Ellisville plants, Howard Industries has two additional plants in Mississippi and one in West Virginia.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors found two serious violations at the manufacturing facility that they believe contributed to the worker’s death. One violation concerned the company’s failure to have employees abide by safety practices when working with live electrical circuits. The other involved the company’s failure to use locks and tags when de-energizing test equipment.

OSHA inspectors found 10 other serious violations at the Ellisville plants, many of which involved electrocution risks and other deadly hazards. For instance, workers were exposed to electric shock hazards but weren’t provided with insulated gloves and other protective equipment. OSHA defines serious violations as those that represent a substantial risk of death or serious harm from workplace hazards that the employer knew or should have known existed.

In addition to the 12 serious violations, Howard Industries was cited for four repeat violations that OSHA inspectors found in 2009 but which the company never corrected, and one other-than-serious violation.

“Tragic incidents can be avoided by following OSHA standards and safety requirements,” said Clyde Payne, OSHA’s director in Jackson. “It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers are trained and provided the appropriate protective equipment so they can perform their duties safely.”

Proposed penalties for the 17 violations total $169,500.