No worker should face safety risks

After nearly seven years, a North Jackson aluminum company is being fined $250,000 for its failure in safety practices that led to the death of a Niles man who worked there.

Two managers who worked in the plant and have pleaded guilty to attempting to cover up the problems are expected to be sentenced in October in U.S. District Court. Any sentence they receive still will be far more lenient than the death sentence the innocent victim received simply for showing up and doing his job.

John Tomlin Jr., 21, of Niles, was killed Oct. 30, 2012, during an incident at the plant when two hot metal racks filled with heavy aluminum and stacked on top of each other tipped over onto him and another employee who was seriously burned. The men were pushing the racks, which weighed between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds, on a roller conveyor system.

In the months following the fatality, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Extrudex Aluminum and said it acted with “knowing disregard or plain indifference to hazards.” OSHA said at that time that “Extrudex Aluminum could have prevented this tragic loss by protecting workers from hazards unique to its operation.”

While we are miffed at the amount of time it took to wrap up the investigation into this industrial accident at the North Jackson plant, we are hopeful that the end result sends a clear message to this plant and any others that might be tempted to take shortcuts on critical safety issues.

No worker should ever be asked to take such risks.

There is no room for safety shortcuts in any business, and especially not in any industrial setting like the one in question.