Dillman Equipment fined $124k in accident that took Wauzeka man’s life

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Dillman Equipment, a division of Astec, is located along County K just north of Prairie du Chien.

Dillman Equipment, a division of Astec in Prairie du Chien, has been fined nearly $125,000 in the Nov. 29, 2017, death of a Wauzeka man who died following an accident there his first day on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company for multiple safety violations after a six-month investigation.  

According to the OSHA report, Curtis Groom, 26, was on his first day of the job at the asphalt mixing plant, working in an abrasive blasting room with another employee when the accident occurred. Together, they blasted a drum frame using an abrasive material known as coal slag. 

The slag was blasted through a nozzle at a force in excess of 100 pounds per square inch. The drum frame was supported by an assembly consisting of axles, tires and steel beams, which was used to transport the drum frame throughout the facility, located on County K just north of the city. 

Groom and his fellow employee began working within a few feet of one another at 12:30 p.m. At about 1 p.m., the employee noticed that Groom “was lying on top of the axle set and had been badly injured,” according to the report. 

The report indicated that coal slag had accumulated on the walking surfaces, “making them extremely slippery” and the particulate created during the blasting “likely created poor visibility.”

Those conditions, “combined with the narrow working surfaces (and) multiple holes in the surface” likely caused Groom to “lose his balance and accidentally direct the blast nozzle…at himself, causing a laceration of the inner left groin area that damaged the femoral vein and artery,” the report stated.

The OSHA investigation attributed Groom’s death to “complications from extensive blood loss.”

OSHA compliance officers opened inspections on Nov. 30 and Dec. 6. The agency issued Dillman citations in May for 21 violations, which included deficiencies in walking and working surfaces and ventilation.

Dillman settled the case and agreed to pay $124,724 in penalties.

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