Personal Injury

OSHA investigation into Independence Tube plant worker’s death still ongoing

OSHA logo OSHA investigation into Independence Tube plant workers death still ongoingAccording to the Decatur Daily, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s investigation into the accidental death of Independence Tube facility worker Gary Timothy “Tim” Cooper could be wrapped up in as soon as six weeks. Cooper lost his life when a three-ton steel coil fell onto him in October of last year.

Despite the Decatur Police Department investigation ruling the incident an accident, investigators were unable to figure out why the 6,000-pound coil fell in the first place. At the time of the accident, Cooper, who was originally from Decatur but living in Hartselle at the time, was preparing to band smaller pieces of coil together when the coil fell off the cart. Independence Tube is responsible for producing steel tubes and piping for manufacturers in the agricultural, transportation and lighting equipment industries.

“The compliance officer assigned to the investigation does fact-finding to put together a timeline of the incident and the time leading up to it. OSHA has up to six months to complete the investigation,” OSHA spokesman Mike D’Aquino told Decatur Daily last week.

D’Aquino also acknowledged that these types of investigations require many witness interviews, as well as time to consider the company’s past health and safety violations. OSHA must also ensure there weren’t any other potential workplace hazards present unrelated to the worker’s death.

“Especially with a fatality, these investigations can take a while,” D’Aquino told Decatur Daily.

Rick Werner, President of Independence Tube, claims that the company has been “fully compliant in every way we can” with OSHA’s investigation of the worker’s death.

Back in 2010, the Decatur plant was cited for four “serious” safety violations, including failure to properly control hazardous energy, overhead and gantry cranes. Independence Tube paid OSHA fines of $8,775 and corrected its issues as part of the settlement.

The plant was almost destroyed in April 2011 by a large tornado, but was re-opened a year later.

For more information on OSHA and how it protects the rights of U.S. workers, visit the Department of Labor’s website at

Source: Decatur Daily