All workplace fatalities are avoidable. Through the collective bargaining process, we seek to make our workplaces safer and often negotiate stronger protections for our members than is required by federal, state, and local laws and guidelines. We do this because all workers should leave their workplace in the same health as when they arrived for work.
As we approach Workers Memorial Day on April 28, we know we have much more work ahead of us. Four UAW members died in workplace incidents since Workers Memorial Day 2015. We mourn the loss of these members and send our condolences to their loved ones and coworkers.
These deaths serve as a reminder of the dangers of working alone, that team leaders’ duties and lean manufacturing objectives must be coupled with proper regard to safety, that malfunctioning or poorly designed machine guarding and presence-sensing devices must be reported to management and be promptly addressed. We must also do more to ensure that new safe working procedures are in place when maintenance tasks create new hazards.
UAW fatalities in the workplace April 28, 2015-Feb. 29, 2016:
May 5, 2015 Donald Megge, 53, Millwright Jefferson North Fiat Chrysler Assembly Local 7, Detroit, MI Brother Megge was cleaning a filter press to remove solids from waste water when he was crushed between filter plates. Root causes included disconnected presence- sensing devices, faulty circuits and working alone. May 6, 2015 Lee Duncan, 41, Team Leader Jefferson North Fiat Chrysler Assembly Local 7, Detroit, MI Brother Duncan was re-installing rear fascia on vehicles in a remote location. He was pushed by the vehicle conveyor and struck a metal locker head first. The medical examiner has stated the force of the blow lead to severe brain trauma. He died immediately. January 22, 2016 Katherine White, 51, Team Leader Carlex Glass America Local 737, Nashville,TN Sister White was cleaning the ink applicator used to date stamp windshields. A shuttle that picks up auto glass and moves it to a robot pick point activated, trapping her head between a shuttle rail and the conveyor. The crush point was not guarded. There was no lockout procedure in use. She was pronounced dead at the scene. February 2, 2016 Terry Bodenbender, Electrician General Motors Foundry Local 211, Defiance, OH During the afternoon of Tuesday, February 2, 2016, the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources health and safety leadership were notified that a serious injury incident had occurred. Information obtained indicated that sometime at approx. 12:15 p.m. an accident had occurred while two employees were troubleshooting a 15-ton crane. Brother Terry Bodenbender had sustained a fatal injury due to a fall from heights. He sustained severe blunt-force trauma injuries to his upper torso and skull. he succumbed to his injuries Feb. 2, 2016 at the accident scene.