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Michigan company facing $558K fine for worker's death

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A  Michigan plastics company is facing $558,000 in fines for safety violations, including those that led to a worker's death.

Last June, Grand Rapids Plastics employee Russel Scharenbroch was crushed to death inside a horizontal injection molding machine he was cleaning.

A report from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the company failed to enforce use of the machine's lockout function. 

Scharenbroch was killed when another employee "cycled" the machine, which had been left in automatic mode.

Tanya Baker with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the fine is the largest the state has issued for a workplace fatality in the last decade.

"The real goal here is to work with the employer to ensure that they are correcting those hazards," Baker said. "It's very difficult to put a dollar amount on a person's life or limb."

Baker said the company has the option to appeal the fine.

Following Scharenbroch's death, three MIOSHA inspections found a total of 55 safety violations at Grand Rapids Plastics.  

Nine were categorized as "willful serious." 

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