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N.C. Dept. of Labor scrutinizing RSI after death

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

According to officials with the North Carolina Department of Labor, a Lincolnton manufacturing plant where a worker died late last month during an on-the-job accident has violated Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards on multiple occasions over the last four years.

Neil O’Bryant, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Labor, told the Times-News Tuesday that since 2008 state inspectors have cited six “non-serious” violations and one “serious” violation at the RSI Home Products’ plant #2, the same plant where 35-year-old Marendonio Francisco Viruel Lopez, of Lincolnton, was working on Feb. 23 when deputies said he caught himself on one of the cabinet-producing plant’s angular saws, suffering traumatic injuries and later dying an area hospital.

O’Bryant said inspectors immediately initiated an investigation into the fatality, interviewing plant employees, witnesses and management officials, which is the agency’s standard protocol for a work-related death.

The investigation could take up to six months to complete, during which time inspectors will work to determine the accident’s cause and whether it was connected to an OSHA violation, officials said. If a violation is discovered, inspectors will then determine how it resulted in the accident and whether any hazardous working conditions should be revised to prevent future incidents, according to a N.C. Department of Labor flyer on OSHA’s investigation process.

While RSI was not forced to pay penalties for its four 2008 violations, OSHA did fine the plant shell $600 in 2011 for failing to appropriately mark permanent aisles and passage ways inside the facility, O’Bryant said.

Following Lopez’s death, Sheriff’s detectives also learned he had been working eight years at the plant under a fake name. However, the Sheriff’s Office would not provide further details on why the victim went by a different name.

 

 

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