Fatal accident at Fiat Chrysler Detroit car factory

The cause of a fatal accident at a Fiat Chrysler car factory in Detroit is being investigated.

On May 5, maintenance worker Donald Megge, aged 53, was crushed in a wastewater filter press at the Fiat Chrysler factory in Jefferson North, Michigan.

He was said to have been working alone and performing maintenance work on the filter press.

“Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to the family, friends and all of those who worked with UAW member Donald Megge, 53, of Sterling Heights, who died this morning in a tragic accident shortly after starting his shift at Fiat Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue North Assembly Plant today,” said Vice President of UAW-Chrysler, Norwood Jewell.

“The incident remains under investigation by state and federal health and safety officials, and union and company health and safety professionals,” Jewell said.

An employee at Jefferson North Assembly Plant installs a door on the  Jeep Grand Cherokee - image courtesy of Fiat Chrysler
An employee at Jefferson North Assembly Plant installs a door on the Jeep Grand Cherokee – image courtesy of Fiat Chrysler.

“The company is currently working with local officials to investigate the incident,” said Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson.

“All of the FCA family extends its deepest sympathies to the employee’s family during this difficult time,” the company said in a statement.

The incident is also under investigation by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

As of February, the 24-year-old facility on Detroit’s east side had 4,623 workers, including 4,397 hourly and 226 salaried. FCA US, formerly Chrysler Group, assembles the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango at the site.

Unions say Occupational Health and Safety Act is outdated

In May, 2014 the US trade union umbrella group American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) released its report into workplace deaths, titled Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect – A National and State-By-State Profile of Worker Health and Safety and Health in the United States.

“In 2013, 4,585 workers were killed on the job in the United States, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of 150 workers each day from hazardous working conditions,” the report said.

It went on to show that over the previous four years from 2009-2013, the death toll in US workplace’s had declined, from 3.6 per 100,000 in 2010 to 3.3 per 100,000 in 2013.

The report argued that since the 1970 Occupational Health and Safety Act was passed it has saved 510,000 lives but said the act needed to be updated.

According to an extract in the report: ‘The Occupational Safety and Health Act now is more than 40 years old and out of date… Congress should pass the Protecting America’s Workers Act to extend the law’s coverage to workers currently excluded, strengthen civil and criminal penalties for violations and strengthen the rights of workers, unions and victims.

‘Improvements to update and strengthen the OSH Act’s antiretaliation provisions are particularly needed so workers can report job hazards and injuries and exercise safety and health rights without fear.’