Untrained Worker Suffers Fatal Electrocution at H.M. Richards, Inc.

Untrained Worker Suffers Fatal Electrocution at H.M. Richards, Inc.

Furniture manufacturer fails to protect employee from electrical hazard.

Raymond Marvin Reece was a husband and father who enjoyed pleasures like family boating trips, camping and stock-car racing. Tragically, the 46-year-old maintenance worker at H.M. Richards Inc. was fatally electrocuted on Oct. 1, 2014, as he disconnected wiring on a saw at the company's temporary facility on Towery Road in Guntown.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration who responded to the scene after his death found the furniture upholstery manufacturer violated nine safety standards, of which one could have prevented the tragedy. Among the violations was H.M. Richards' failure to provide electrical safety training to Reece, as required. If they had, Reece would have known the equipment he worked with was still "live" and contained enough electricity to kill him.

"Regrettably, a spouse and two children are left without a husband, father and the support he provided to make ends meet because H.M. Richards failed to train or qualify Mr. Reece in the duties he was assigned according to OSHA standards," said Eugene Stewart, OSHA's area director in Jackson.

OSHA issued a citation for not marking circuit breakers to indicate what they control in the circuit-breaker box. A repeated violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The agency cited H.M. Richards in May 2011 for this same violation.

Inspectors also found seven serious violations, including failing to ensure that employees were trained and qualified to perform electrical work; exposing workers to amputations and struck-by hazards by operating dangerous machines without protection; not ensuring the electrical disconnect switch could not be turned back on before performing work; and exposing employees to electrical shock and burns due to unmarked ground conductors. Another violation was cited for allowing damaged wiring on a fan.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

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Founded in 1997, H.M. Richards employs approximately 900 workers at its Guntown facility and faces $55,100 in proposed penalties. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries in Mississippi accounted for 64 of the 4,405 fatal work* injuries reported nationally in 2013. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov.

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