Improper Machine Guarding Causes Fatality in Mississippi

Improper Machining Guarding leads to fatality in MississippiImproper machine guarding was found by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, who has issued numerous citations to Mississippi-based Hankins Lumber Company, for 12 serious and 3 other-than-serious violations, stemming from the May 2016 death of saw operator, Charlie Cummins Jr., at an Elliot, Mississippi facility.

The injury and subsequent death of the aforementioned employee occurred on May 4th, 2016. Cummins was performing maintenance on a gang saw, attempting to adjust an in-feed table pin which was stuck in the “UP” position. While focused on the repair at hand, Cummins’ clothes became entangled with a rotating shaft and pinned him against the equipment. Cummins was rendered unconscious and was found by co-workers, then quickly transported to a local hospital. Cummins later died from injuries sustained during the incident caused, in part, by improper machine guarding.

Following a May 5 inspection, OSHA determined that the following violations were present:

  • Failure to institute and utilize safety procedures for emergency shutdown with machinery
  • Failure to close-off unused openings in electrical cabinets
  • Failure to provide adequate guarding for various working parts of present machinery (resulting in improper machine guarding)
  • Failure to provide confined space training
  • Failure to provide railing on open-sided floors/platforms
  • Failure to install a safety-latch for hoist hook


For these violations, OSHA has proposed $80,937 in penalties.

OSHA Jackson area director, Eugene Stewart, said, “Had Hankins Lumber met its responsibilities to protect its workers, Charlie Cummins would not have died needlessly. Every employer must ensure equipment is guarded and safety procedures are operational in the event of an emergency.”

Many workplace injuries are easily avoidable and come as a result of improper machine guarding or a lack of a proper lock-out/tag-out or emergency shutdown procedures. One resource that safety leaders can incorporate to ensure the well-being of their respective work forces and compliance with OSHA standards is an OSHA-approved online training course. Proper education and training can prove to be the difference between a scare and the life of an employee.