3M Knew About Dangerous Process Before Fatal Accident, OSHA Confirms

In February 2022, a tragic incident occurred at a 3M (NYSE: MMM) plant in Alexandria, Minnesota, resulting in the death of a 63-year-old worker who became entangled with a machine during the overnight shift.

Following the accident, 3M conducted an assessment of its equipment at plants in the U.S. and Canada. According to OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan, 3M identified powered rollers as hazards in need of safety improvements.

Unfortunately, in May 2023, another fatal accident took place at a 3M manufacturing plant in southwestern Wisconsin. A worker lost their life after becoming caught in a machine’s rotating rollers during the setup of a plastic extrusion line. OSHA determined that this tragic death could have been prevented if the company had followed federal workplace safety regulations and heeded its own advice.

OSHA’s investigation found that 3M violated federal regulations for the control of hazardous energy, specifically during machine setup, servicing, and operation. The company failed to implement energy control measures when employees were handling fiber material through powered rollers, exposing them to hazards.

Additionally, workers at the plant were allowed to bypass machine guarding, further increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. As a result, the safety agency proposed $312,518 in penalties for two willful safety violations.

In response to the incident, 3M emphasized its commitment to the safety and health of its employees and expressed deep sadness over the tragedy. The company has been actively working with federal workplace safety regulators to implement improvements and investments aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future.

As the company evaluates OSHA’s Citation and Notification of Penalty, it remains dedicated to collaborating with the Department of Labor to address the matter. 3M, headquartered in Maplewood, Minnesota, operates 40 factories in the U.S. and employs approximately 34,000 workers in the country. OSHA’s Donovan stressed the urgency of addressing these hazards to protect employees from serious injuries or worse.


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