Man crushed to death at SC auto plant. Fine is 1/10th the cost of BMWs painted there

Charlotte Observer file photo of the BMW plant in Spartanburg, S.C.
Charlotte Observer file photo of the BMW plant in Spartanburg, S.C. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

After a man was killed working at a BMW Manufacturing paint shop in South Carolina, an inspection was conducted.

That inspection recently was concluded, and four violations were cited by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, after the man working for a contractor suffered a fatal head wound at the paint shop in Spartanburg.

Because of the citations, the contractor he worked for, Lodige USA Inc., was issued a combined total of $6,975 in fines, per the Citation and Notification of Penalty.

That amount is less than one-10th of the average value of a new BMW, which is approximately $72,338, according to cars.com.

Bojan Sprah was the man killed in what BMW called “an accidental death,” according to Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger.

The coroner said the 45-year-old Boiling Springs resident, originally from Slovenia, died March 28 from “open head trauma, secondary to blunt force trauma and entrapment in moving machinery,” Greenville News reported.

Pelham Batesville Fire Chief Phill Jolley said Sprah was still trapped in the vehicle lift, which carries vehicle frames to different floors in the auto shop, when firefighters arrived, according to goupstate.com. He added, “there was no potential for life saving in this case.”

According to an OSHA report on Sprah’s death, he “was positioned between the safety gate/fencing and the pathway of the (4,883-pound) counterweights,” when he was hit by them, per WSPA. He was attempting “to add cable covers onto the cable trays around the lift frame of the Lodige vertical lift.”

The Citation and Notification of Penalty indicated Lodige was cited for:

Failure to provide an employee on a surface 4-feet or higher fall protection, such as a guardrail system, safety-net system or personal fall protection systems.

Failure to provide fall-protection training.

Failure to develop and document lockout and tagout procedures for the lift.

Failure to locate and operate energy-isolating devices to control the lift.

Lodige was fined $1,000, $375, $2,800 and $2,800 for the fines, respectively. All four of the citations were listed as “serious.”

The maximum penalty for a serious violation is $7,000, Greenville News reported.

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