(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The family of a man who was killed while working at an industrial sawmill in St. Joseph is suing the company that made the machine for damages.
The children of 38-year-old Joshua Hill of St. Joseph, claim Williams Patent Crusher and Pulverizer Company did not design the machine, an industrial wood chipper, with safety features that would keep the operator safe from falling down into the grinder. The lawsuit, filed on the children’s behalf by their mother Jennifer Hill, also claims the company did not warn operators of safety risks or slip hazards for operators near the machine.
Hill worked for an industrial sawmill, American Walnut Company, that is the world’s largest provider of black walnut gunstocks and it manufactures lumber, furniture squares, blanks, and other specialty products. He was operating a wood chipper used to grind up excess wood scraps on March 12, 2018.
Hill fell into the opening of the wood chipper, or Hog, and was shredded and killed by the machine, according to the Buchanan County Circuit Court lawsuit filed Tuesday morning.
“As Joshua Hill’s coworkers searched for him, they eventually found a piece of flesh and part of a steel toe boot near the Hog,” the lawsuit said.
The Buchanan County Medical Examiner confirmed the human remains found in the “Hog” belonged to Joshua Hill through DNA analysis.
The lawsuit does not allege that there were witnesses.
But an OSHA investigation opened as a result of Hill’s death, found Hill fell 10 feet into a chute and was killed by the blades of the grinder.
The lawsuit does not name American Walnut as a defendant.
State OSHA inspectors proposed fining American Walnut close to $200,000 for Hill’s death and for safety violations in September 2018.
OSHA investigators also found the company had failed to evaluate job hazards, control hazardous energy, and ensure machines were equipped with adequate guards, and that it exposed workers to hazards associated with falls, ladders, and electrical safety.
In a follow-up health inspection in April 2018, OSHA found the company exposed workers to hazards associated with combustible dust, noise, and the use of chemicals in the sawmill.
The family of Hill is seeking as-yet-unspecified damages from Williams Patent Crusher and Pulverizer Company.
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