One manufacturing plant worker was killed and another worker critically injured Saturday in an accident at a wind tower manufacturing plant in Newton, Iowa underscoring just how dangerous manufacturing jobs can be even in the wind energy sector.
Iowa is a leading wind energy producer in the nation and its central location and transportation infrastructure makes it an ideal location for manufacturers to ship and receive wind components. Not only does Iowa have 80 wind installations up and running but also 50 manufacturers in the wind supply chain including the wind tower manufacturing plant where the injuries occurred.
Not much is known about the inner workings of a tower plant, but by one account, a typical day involves workers unloading huge slabs of plate steel arriving by train with cranes and putting them into a roller. Pieces are then welded at the seams and into larger parts before being painted. Platforms, ladders and wiring are installed in the final processing before the part is shipped to its destination. As with all manufacturing jobs, at every step in the operation, dangers lurk for workers who can be injured in transportation accidents, contact with moving equipment, exposure to chemicals, falls, falling parts, electrocution hazards, and more.
Because there are often many moving parts in manufacturing, it is particularly important that employees are trained to recognize and act on safety hazards, the proper use of personal protective equipment, and safety practices related to the work environment and safety in the performance of their jobs. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from recognized hazards – a failure to do so can result in serious injuries on the job.
According to local news outlets, the investigation into the wind tower incident is ongoing; regulatory agencies have been notified. It is unclear how the workers were injured, but hopefully the investigation yields answers so that future work injuries and fatalities can be averted.
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