Report: Worker crushed by press at Niles factory

NILES – It may take up to six months for federal safety inspectors to complete the investigation into Tuesday’s death of a worker inside a Niles factory.

For now, it appears a press operator was crushed when an aluminum extrusion press became jammed, and he attempted to free the object. Niles Fire Department responded at 8:41 p.m. Tuesday to the emergency call of a worker being crushed by a machine at BRT Extrusion Inc., 1818 N. Main St.

When they arrived, the victim, identified as Daniel Banks, 49, of Leavittsburg, was lying on the floor inside the plant. Firefighters said he was not breathing, and they immediately began CPR efforts until paramedics arrived to transport him to an area hospital. He was pronounced dead at St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Two inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived at the plant early Wednesday to launch an investigation that could last up to six months, agency spokesman Scott Allen said.

James Metheny, human resources manager for BRT, declined to release any information on the incident or the company, including the number of employees. Niles income tax records indicate the plant employed between 140 and 150 workers in 2012, the latest records immediately available.

BRT’s website indicates the company operates three large presses, all capable of pressing materials at pressure of at least 1,675 tons. It manufactures aluminum extrusions from standard or custom dies.

“We are asking that everybody send their support to the family,” Metheny said.

OSHA’s Allen said after receiving complaints, the agency had cited BRT for safety violations in 2007 and 2009.

The 2007 citation came for a “serious” violation stemming from inadequate machine guarding. The 2009 violation, also designated “serious,” was for failure to guard mechanical power devices.

Initially hit with two fines that totaled more than $27,000, settlements allowed the company to pay fines that instead totaled $1,952.

“It’s imperative that companies follow OSHA standards and regulations to try to prevent injuries or sadly in this case, death,” Allen said. “There really is no such thing as an accident. If OSHA standards and procedures are followed, an incident like this can be avoided.”

Services for Banks are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Carl W. Hall Funeral Home, with calling hours from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.