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OSHA cites East Peoria plant after worker's death

EAST PEORIA (AP) — A central Illinois metal manufacturing plant has been cited with federal safety violations after an employee died in February when he was crushed by an automated laser-cutting machine.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hagel Metal Fabrication Inc. of East Peoria on Thursday for 12 safety and health violations. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $317,000.

Company CEO David Wrigley told The Journal Star (http://bit.ly/18NC7Ph ) that his company's lawyers were reviewing the citations and had no further comment. About 90 people work at the plant.

Wesley Bernius, 23, of East Peoria died on Feb. 22 of head injuries. OSHA argues that the company failed to heed basic safety precautions and demonstrated disregard for worker safety and health.

"This tragedy could have been prevented if the company ensured adequate machine guarding, effective lockout-tagout procedures and worker training on hazards," said Tom Bielma, OSHA's area director in Peoria.

OSHA placed the company on its list of severe violators, which requires follow-up inspections to make sure the plant complies with the law. OSHA said it has inspected Hagel Metal Fabrication seven times since 1989 and issued 23 citations.

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Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com

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