Woman Dies under Conveyor Belt at Work

17 Mar, 2024 Liz Carey

                               

Columbia County, GA (WorkersCompensation.com) – A worker at a golf cart plant is dead after she tried to retrieve her AirPod from under a conveyor belt during her shift.

Officials said Alyssa Drinkard, 21, died after she got tangled up in the chain that moved the conveyor on March 8. According the incident report from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Drinkard was working a shift at Club Car, a facility that manufactures electric and gas-powered golf carts – when her AirPod dropped.

Drinkard’s coworker, Fae’Zsha Smith, told law enforcement that she saw her friend crawl under the conveyor and that get entangled in the chain, but that she “was not able to get her out,” due to the position that Drinkard was pinned in. Smith said she “called for maintenance to come and shut the machine down.”

Smith said Drinkard's arm got caught in the machine. She told NBC News that she had been “traumatized” by the incident.

Officials said maintenance workers started to take the machine apart once it stopped and called 911.

Once maintenance workers took the machine apart, Drinkard was removed from the machine after emergency services cut “the metal frame from around the conveyor,” the incident said. Drinkard still had a pulse when she was transported to Doctors Hospitals, officials said.

She was pronounced dead at the hospital, officials said.

Officials with Club Car confirmed in a statement that one of their workers had died after they "experienced a critical injury while working at our main manufacturing facility in Evans."

“"On Friday evening, a contract labor worker experienced a critical injury while working at our main manufacturing facility in Evans. First responders were immediately notified, and we thank them for their quick response to provide medical care and transportation to the hospital where the worker unfortunately later passed away," the company said in a statement. "Our sincere condolences and thoughts are with the family, friends and all impacted by this loss. We are working with authorities and the contractor in an investigation to determine the facts about what led to the incident."

It was one of a number of fatalities in the workplace on Friday.

In Camas, Washington, a 32-year-old man died at a Georgia Pacific mill in an accident police said involved heavy machinery.

Camas police and the Camas-Washougal Fire Department said they were called to the mill around 5 p.m. when an employee was found dead inside the mill..

Police identified the man as Dakota Austin Cline, and said he died from blunt trauma to the head, neck and torso when he became entangled in industrial machinery. The death was ruled an accident by the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“Safety is a value at Georgia-Pacific. This is devastating for his family and friends and for our Camas team,” Georgia-Pacific Public Affairs Officer Kristi Ward said. “We are working to support them, and we are working through the investigation with the appropriate authorities, including corporate safety resources and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).”

Ward said Cline died within the unitizing and converting department, which is shut down until further notice. The department is near the end of the packaging process for finished products. Georgia-Pacific is a manufacturer and distributor of tissue, pulp, paper packaging, and building materials and products.

The incident is also under investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, officials said.

“We have about six months to complete an investigation once we’ve opened it,” Matt Ross, L&I public affairs officer, told the Columbian newspaper. “Until that has wrapped up, we can’t give out any details.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,486 fatal work injuries reported in 2022. Fatalities due to contact with objects and equipment increased 4.7 percent from 705 fatalities in 2021 to 738 in 2022 – the highest count for those events since 2018. Of those, machinery was the source of 199 fatalities.

In 2002, 39-year-old Terry Rykhus of Washougal was killed with he was crushed in a paper machine. The Department of Labor & Industries found his death was preventable, and he could have avoided injury if the safety rules for his job had been followed. Georgia-Pacific was fined $6,500 for the incident. Prior to that, the last fatality at the mill was a forklift accident in 1986. Georgia-Pacific has owned the plant since 2000.


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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