A 29-year-old man working at a Brownsville, Texas, bowling alley died when his shirt collar became entangled in a faulty pinsetter, strangling him as the machine twisted his collar tighter.
Vidal Garcia, a U.S. Navy veteran and student at the University of Texas at Brownsville, was hired part-time at Galaxy Bowling Center four months before the accident occurred on March 5, 2015. He was performing maintenance on an automatic bowling pinsetter machine, which picks up and clears fallen pins and sets them up for the next bowler.
An investigation of the accident by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) authorities found that the machine’s unguarded, rotating shafts and improper shutdown of a control panel at the bowling alley led to Mr. Garcia’s death.
OSHA cited the company for 10 serious safety violations on Sept. 2.
“Vidal Garcia died in a preventable workplace tragedy,” Michele Shield, OSHA’s acting area director in Corpus Christi, said. “Galaxy Bowling knew the pinsetter had problems, yet employers allowed him to crawl into the machine while it was on to fix it.”
OSHA inspectors also found that the company lacked a program to prevent unintentional operation of machinery during service and maintenance, a process known as lockout/tagout. The agency also noted that the pin rotating shaft and the ball-return mechanisms lacked guards to prevent workers from coming near and catching on operating parts.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $50,400 for the citations, giving Galaxy 15 business days to pay the fine and correct the safety violations, dispute the findings, or request a conference with OSHA’s area director.