Domino worker dies

The Baltimore Sun

A worker at the Domino Sugar factory in Baltimore died early yesterday in a forklift accident - Maryland's first industrial workplace fatality this year, authorities said.

City paramedics responded to the waterfront factory, in the 1100 block of Key Highway, at 2:42 a.m., according to Chief Kevin Cartwright, a city Fire Department spokesman. They found a man suffering from trauma to his head near a forklift, he said.

Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene. None of the city or state agencies involved in the investigation - nor his employer or the union that represented him - would release the man's name yesterday. A Domino spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the man's name was being withheld "out of respect for the family." Officials did not release details about how the man was injured.

The Domino Sugar factory, which opened in 1922, is one of the few remaining factories on the Baltimore waterfront, with an iconic sign that lights up the city skyline. The factory employs about 300 people and is one of the largest sugar suppliers on the East Coast.

In a statement yesterday, American Sugar Refining, the factory's owner, said it is fully cooperating with an investigation being conducted by inspectors from the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company said it was "providing support" to the employee's family and co-workers.

Mark Folderauer, president of UFCW Local 392, which represents workers at the plant, declined to comment.

Roger Campbell, assistant commissioner for the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation who is in charge of the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health administration, said he could not comment on details of the investigation into this morning's death.

Campbell said that workers operating a forklift may or may not be required by regulation to wear a seat belt, depending on the type of forklift they are using.

Campbell said the Domino incident was the first workplace accident this year that his agency has investigated. Last year, MOSHA investigated 26 deaths in Maryland workplaces.

Last year, state officials fined Domino Sugar $4,000 for allowing sugar dust to accumulate in the refinery. The dust buildup is believed to have caused a huge explosion Nov. 2, 2007, which blew out windows, destroyed equipment and echoed across the Baltimore harbor.

Three employees suffered minor injuries in the blast, which caused approximately $2.5 million in damage.

According to past reports, the last time a Domino Sugar worker died was in August 2000, when a 36-year-old equipment operator was doused in calcium hydroxide while cleaning heavy equipment. The company was fined $35,000 in that incident.

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