London – Goodyear this week confirmed that there had been another fatality at its tire plant in Danville, Virginia - the fourth such tragedy there in less than a year.
As with the three previous incidents, Goodyear did not publish a press statement about the latest fatality, instead providing, on request, a brief statement about the incident, which occurred on 12 Aug.
Following a now familiar format, the US tire maker again confirmed that a worker had died at the plant, expressed deep regret and announced the launch of an investigation:
“We regret to report that early Friday morning, 12 Aug, a death occurred in the Goodyear-Danville manufacturing facility. Goodyear’s on-site emergency response team, as well as local emergency personnel responded immediately, and all parties have been working together to investigate the root cause of the incident.
“Goodyear reported the incident to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and will fully cooperate with the organization. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and co-workers of William “Billy” Scheier, an electrician who had worked for Goodyear for just under six years.”
The fatality follows an incident on 12 April, in which Greg Cooper, an 18-year associate and maintenance mechanic at Goodyear-Danville, died at work. The local medical examiner attributed the death to “drowning and thermal injuries”.
That fatality happened two weeks after Kevin Edmonds, 54, died at the plant on 31 March as a result of what was also described as an industrial accident.
Also, Jeanie Strader, 56, died on 31 Aug 2015, after being caught in machine rollers, according to a document by OSHA – the US federal agency that oversees workplace safety.
Surprisingly, though, there did not seem to be any reference to this tragic sequence of events on Goodyear's corporate website.
Nor was there any obvious mention of Danville in Goodyear’s latest quarterly report or annual report and the latest annual CSR report available online was for 2014.
Goodyear did not respond to ERJ’s questions about the apparent lack of published information about events at Danville.
This all seems at odds with modern-day, industrial-safety policy, whereby senior managers acknowledge that they are ultimately responsible for any workplace accident in their companies.
Goodyear’s top bosses might well be doing everything in their power to address the tragic events at Danville. However, to date it seems - rightly or wrongly - that the situation is being treated as a matter for local management and unions there to deal with.