Feb 16, 2017
This tool cuts fingers and gashes faces, but shipbuilder still uses it
Featuring: J. Brian Duncan Jr., William E. Bonner and David G. Wirtes Jr.
By Jennifer Gollan
Published: February 16, 2017, Reveal - The Center for Investigative Reporting
Martin Osborn had a job to do at the Alabama shipyard: Use a handheld power tool to slice a tiny piece of aluminum on a ship being constructed for the U.S. Navy.
As he pushed the saw blade through the metal one morning in February 2014, the tool shot back. It ripped through his left ring finger, tearing away flesh and bone. Osborn never saw it coming.
But shipyard managers did. For years, managers at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile privately fretted about the danger of a tool they’d modified from its intended use. In an email three years earlier, Chris Blankenfeld, the company’s top safety manager, called the machine a “Widow Maker.”
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