Candle Factory Survey Will Provide Much-needed Answers
It is not yet clear exactly what happened at the Mayfield consumer products plant on Friday night before a massive tornado hit the plant and killed eight employees, but state officials are doing exactly what it takes with an OSHA investigation that was announced on Tuesday.
In announcing the investigation, Gov. Andy Beshear made it clear that this is standard procedure for any workplace fatality and that he is not aware of any wrongdoing. The eight employee fatalities at the candle factory are well below the 70 originally predicted, but we have now received disturbing reports from NBC News about four employees who said as many as 15 workers have requested to leave. as the storms approached, but were threatened. with the loss of their job.
A company spokesperson denied the claims, saying company policy was to let employees leave when they wanted and return the next day.
It appears that many employees left before the tornado destroyed the factory and were not found the next day due to communication issues. That’s why the dreaded death toll has given way to better news.
But we do know enough to raise more questions about what really happened at a company that paid $ 8 an hour and used inmate labor at Graves County Jail. An assistant jailer who supervised several workers reportedly took them to safety, but he himself was killed.
Similar questions about training and mobile phone policies are being asked about six deaths at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Ill., From the same series of tornadoes.
The reports disturbed State Senator Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville enough that he said on Tuesday he would introduce legislation to “hold accountable those who force workers to stay and risk their lives in severe weather. “he said in a tweet.
Workplace protection began in earnest in 1911 after the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, when 146 textile workers, mostly young immigrant women, died in a fire because the doors and cages of stairs were locked to prevent employees from leaving. Some of them jumped to their deaths from open windows. The fire led to better labor standards, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, and led to the rise of organized labor. MCP is not a union store, according to the Union of United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents other businesses in the region.
MCP was a major economic driver in Mayfield, receiving state subsidies to stay in an area where many manufacturers had already left. Nonetheless, the families of those killed and all who work in Kentucky’s many factories deserve answers about what went wrong in this tragedy.