Officials with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Chattanooga Police Department are currently looking for answers in the aftermath of a fatal workplace accident at one of the city's more well-known manufacturing facilities earlier this month.
According to preliminary reports, a 34-year-old woman was working a shift at the Wrigley manufacturing plant back on October 20 and climbed a ladder to perform some of her normal duties. Shortly thereafter, a forklift backed into the ladder with great enough force to cause the woman to lose her balance and fall to the floor below.
Emergency responders were summoned, and the woman was taken to an area hospital. Sadly, she died of her serious personal injuries the next day.
Thus far, the Chattanooga Police Department has ruled out any suspicion of foul play, claiming the wrongful death appears to be nothing more than a tragic accident.
TOSHA, the state agency in charge of investigating workplace fatalities, already dispatched its officials to the scene to take witness statements and collect other information that may prove to be relevant in determining what exactly transpired. The final results of their investigation, however, may not be published until this spring.
It is worth noting that TOSHA actually issued this Wrigley manufacturing plant two workplace safety violations back in 2005 for failing to provide adequate first aid training and improper machine guarding. The former citation was treated as a serious offense, which is defined as one where "there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known."
For its part, Wrigley's has expressed remorse over the fatal accident, but declined to offer more details on what exactly transpired.
"It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of one of our associates as a result of an accident onsite at our Chattanooga production facility," read a prepared statement. "Our deepest condolences go to our colleague's family and friends during this difficult time, and out of respect for them, we will not comment about this further."
The candymaker also noted that it is committed to keeping employees safe and mandates various safety programs at its facilities, including monthly peer safety coaching, monthly safety training and annual associate safety pledge.
Stay tuned for updates ...
Whether you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a workplace accident, it's important to understand that you have rights and you have options. An experienced attorney can explain both and protect your best interests.
Source: The Chattanooga Times Free Press, "State officials investigating death at Chattanooga's Wrigley Manufacturing plant," Shelly Bradbury, Oct. 26, 2013; WTVC, "Workplace accident kills Chattanooga woman," Jerry Askin, Oct. 22, 2013