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CALEDONIA

Racine County company fined by OSHA after worker dies from COVID

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Amston Trailer Sales

Brothers and owners Mark, Steve and Michael Hribar, from left, in front Amston Trailer Sales, which opened in February 2017 at 7213 E. Frontage Road.

CALEDONIA — A local trailer sales company has been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to protect workers from the dangers of COVID-19.

Within one month, 12 of Amston Trailer Sales' workers tested positive for COVID and one 49-year-old worker died as a result, according to OSHA. The person who died, a dispatcher, had been working with the company for about one month before dying as a result of the virus on April 27.

Amston Trailer Sales, 7213 U.S. 41, Caledonia, was fined for a "serious general duty clause violation," totaling $9,557 in penalties, OSHA announced Thursday.

Following a complaint alleging coronavirus hazards, OSHA inspected the facility in May and determined the company had allowed workers to congregate closely and without masks, even though the company had a policy that required employees to screen, wear masks and social distance when possible to prevent coronavirus infection.

“Failure to protect workers from the hazards related to coronavirus infection can have serious consequences,” Christine Zortman, the Milwaukee area's OSHA director, said a statement. “Simply having a policy is not enough — employers are obligated to make sure preventive measures are actually being followed in order to protect their employees.”

Amston Trailer Sales has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area direct or to contest the findings with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Amston also operates in Lebanon, Indiana, in addition to the $7 million Caledonia facility that opened in 2017.

Amston did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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