3M could have prevented an employee death at a southwestern Wisconsin manufacturing plant by following federal workplace safety regulations, reveals OSHA in their investigation. The worker was caught in a machine's rotating rollers in May 2023 and suffered fatal injuries.

The agency began an investigation after the 3M Company reported the death at its Prairie du Chien, WI facility in May 2023. The 57-year-old employee had worked at the plant for 23 years, according to media reports. OSHA inspectors learned that the employee was helping to set up a plastic extrusion line when she became caught in the machine’s rotating rollers. The agency determined that 3M violated federal regulations for the “control of hazardous energy during setup, servicing, and operation of the machine.”

OSHA determined the 3M Company, one of the world's most well-known manufacturing companies, violated federal regulations for the control of hazardous energy during set-up, servicing and operation of the machine. The incident followed the company's assessment of equipment at its U.S. and Canadian plants in May 2022 after a worker fatality occurred at a 3M facility in Alexandria, Minnesota, in February 2022.

"The tragedy of another employee's death in Wisconsin is compounded by the fact that the 3M Company completed a corporate-wide review and determined powered rollers were hazards in need of safety improvements," explained OSHA Regional Administrator Bill Donovan in Chicago, in a release. "The company must address these hazards immediately to protect employees from serious injuries or worse."

OSHA cited the company for two willful safety violations and assessed $312,518 in proposed penalties.

Specifically, federal investigators found the company failed to use procedures for the control of hazardous energy and did not implement energy control application steps when employees set up the production line by threading through powered rollers by hand. They also determined the 3M plant allowed workers to circumvent machine guarding to cut and remove wrapped fibers from rotating powered rollers and to remove fibers from the floor, which exposed them to caught-in hazards.