HAMMOND — A Hammond tire shop was fined $14,475 by the state of Indiana after a worker died there last year.
Ismael "Chino" Diaz died of mechanical asphyxia in a workplace accident at Pomp's Tire Service at 7930 New Jersey Ave. in October, according to the Lake County Coroner's Office.
A clamp truck — similar to a forklift, but with a hydraulic clamp instead of forks — flipped over while making a turn, without slowing down, while taking a tire to the scrap tire pile, according to the Indiana Department of Labor. Diaz, a 44-year-old father of three from East Chicago, died in the accident.
The Indiana Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration did inspections and found four serious safety violations and one non-serious violation at Pomp's Tire Services, which is a Green Bay, Wisconsin-based chain of tire and auto repair shops with locations around the Midwest.
State inspectors determined that Pomp's Tire Service in Hammond did not "establish and maintain conditions of work which were reasonably safe and healthful for employees, and free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death to employees in that employees were exposed to crushing injuries."
"Employees were exposed to crushing injuries when operating fork trucks for activities such as but not limited to transportation of tires without using the seat belts installed by the manufacturer," the Indiana Department of Labor stated in a safety order.
The state suggested Pomp's Tire Service use restraint devices that reduce "the risk of entrapment of the operator's head and/or torso between the truck and ground in the event of a tip-over."
Inspectors also found the tire shop's truck operators did receive initial training, but that it was ineffective on vehicle inspection and required maintenance, and that employees there used a clamp truck without doing a pre-use inspection. They also determined nameplates and markings on the truck were not kept legible so employees could read the manufacturer's warnings.
Pomp's Tire Service did not respond to a request for comment and is contesting the fine, according to a state spokesperson.