Man says workplace accident was result of poor training

By John O'Brien | Sep 1, 2006

CHARLESTON - After having his legs crushed while attempting to clean a machine at a rubber factory, a Clay County man has filed suit against the company claiming he was not properly trained for the job.

David Burch describes the alleged incident, which he says happened on only his third day of work at the Monarch Rubber Co. plant in Spencer, in a lawsuit filed Aug. 25 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The lawsuit also lists Armacell LLC and Jerry Greathouse as defendants.

Greathouse is a supervisor at the Monarch plant, the lawsuit says.

On Oct. 15, 2004, Burch says he was on his third day of work performing janitorial duties at the plant when he was ordered to clean a machine called the "mixer."

The mixer, he explains, combines solids, powders, beads and oils and has a 37x26-inch opening which is open when feeding then closed during its process.

"Cleaning the mixer requires the worker to actually climb into the mixer, feet-first, to scrape off the old rubber and clean and wipe down the inside walls of the mixer with mineral spirits," the complaint says.

Burch adds that while he was showed how to clean the mixer, he was not shown a video, operator's manual or any other training materials regarding how to safely clean the machine.

He also says no one explained to him what to do in case of emergency and that he expressed how uncomfortable he was with cleaning the machine alone.

However, he says he was reassured that he would do fine.

"In the course of cleaning the mixer and while inside the mixer, Mr. Burch looked up to see the hydraulic ram coming down," the complaint says. "He tried to pull himself from the mixer, but the ram came down on his legs and trapped him, causing severe injuries."

Burch says someone shut down the mixer and raised the ram, and he was pulled from the machine.

He charges the defendants with failing to train employees and seeks compensatory damages for his great pain of body and mind, lost wages and loss of the ability to engage in normal activities.

Frank Venezia of Charleston is representing Burch.

Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker has been assigned the case.

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