One year later, Saukville foundry continues to deal with aftermath


May 19, 2015

In this May 19, 2014, file photo, Saukville Fire Department vehicles are parked outside Johnson Brass and Machine Foundry on Mill Street in Saukville. The company was issued two citations following a fire at their facility, which they are still in the process of contesting.
Daily News file photo 

One year ago, eight workers at Johnson Brass and Machine Foundry Inc. in Saukville were injured after a machine failed and spewed molten metal on them.

The company continues to deal with the aftermath as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company.

The Daily News reported the accident was caused by a malfunctioning centrifugal tumbler in the 50,000-square-foot foundry and machining shop at 270 N. Mill St.

Fire Chief Gilly Schultz said the fire was contained to a corner of the building and was quickly put out. The explosion moved a wall in the building and tossed the injured people around. He said the accident occurred after brass was poured into the tumbler.

The Milwaukee Office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the accident.

Ann Grevenkamp, assistant area director for the Milwaukee Office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the company received two citations.

“They (Johnson Brass and Machine Foundry Inc.) came in for a conference and contested it,” Grevenkamp said. “At this point it’s still in a formal process. It could go to an administrative law judge.”

The citations include a general duty clause citation and a machine guarding citation.

“If we see a violation, we have to conclude the machine should have been guarded,” Grevenkamp said. She said a general duty clause states each employer will furnish a place where employees are free from hazards that causes serious injury or death.

Spokesman Tom Kempke couldn’t be reached for comment, but in June spokesman Phil Trewyn told the Daily News that Johnson Brass and Machine Foundry Inc. will comply with recommendations that come out of the ongoing investigation.

Grevenkamp said when citations are issued, employers can come into their office for a conference and can contest them. In this case, she said an administrative law judge would make a ruling, if it got to that point.

She said once a citation comes with corrective action dates. If the problem isn’t corrected, the company is given a date to correct it.

“Once a citation is contested, it’s put on hold,” Grevenkamp said. “It’s not to say those items may not have been corrected.”

The Daily News reported state fire investigators completed their investigation and described it as a freak accident.

Anne Schwartz, director of communications and public affairs for the Department of Justice, said she didn’t have anything to add about the investigation when asked Friday.