Liberty Denim Fined After Worker’s Death

A Liberty, SC company will have to pay more than $3,200 in fines after a worker died at the plant in August.

Lewis Smith, 41, died at Liberty Denim in August. A supervisor discovered Smith was caught between the rollers of a Sanforizer machine after he fell into the machine and died in the textile plant. The Pickens County coroner rules the man died of positional asphyxia.

State investigators said that the supervisor and Smith had a conversation about problems with the quality of the fabric. The supervisor left and came back about 15 minutes later to find the victim in the machine.

The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation found two serious violations at Liberty Denim upon investigation. The first involved failure to develop and use safety procedures designed to handle the potentially dangerous energy from the Sanforizer machine. The second was failure to inspect and update the energy control procedure in place.

According to an article in GreenvilleOnline.com, Lesia Kudelka, spokeswoman for the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the citations issued to Liberty Denim were serious. Kudelka also said the maximum penalty for a “serious” violation is $7,000. In computing a penalty, the agency considers many factors, including gravity of the violation, company size and employer’s safety history, she said.