CUDAHY — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office has released more details into the death of a 49-year-old Oak Creek man following an industrial accident that happened at ATI Ladish Thursday, November 3rd in Cudahy.
It happened around 1:15 p.m. at the facility located at 5481 S. Packard Avenue — near Packard and E. Ladish Avenue.
The man who was killed has been identified as Shawn Day of Oak Creek.
Officials say Day had been working on a large hammer, one that extends from the ceiling to down under the floor, and a piece of metal became jammed in the hammer. As workers were trying to dislodge the piece, a portion broke off and struck Day in the face.
According to investigators, a forge had been placed between an upper and lower die of the hammer and the forge had become jammed in the upper die. Eight people operate the hammer and the hammer operates on compressed air. When the forge became jammed, officials say Day opened the hammer and according to the standard operating procedure at Ladish, the workers attempted some form of a vacuum seal first in order to loosen the forge and then attempted to spray oil.
Officials say the next step workers took to loosen the forge was take a seamless metal ring that was brought to the hammer and place it between two dies. Day manually operated the hammer with a long lever, while another worker operated the control panel, in an attempt to loosen the frapped forge.
According to investigators, when a metal ring is used to loosen a forge a siren is sounded and everyone near the area clears due to the risk of a metal ring breaking. Employees are to move away from the hammer and those operating are to stand 90° away from the front of the hammer. There had been 18 workers in the area when the accident occurred, before the siren was sounded, officials say.
Authorities say after the metal ring was placed between the two dies, Day began operating the hammer up and down or “tapping it” in order to loosen the forge. As he did this, employees saw a spark fly and saw Day “thrown in the air” after being struck by a broken piece of the ring that had been placed between the two dies.
Another employee working on the panel was also struck, a 48-year-old Cudahy man — he was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
Day was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators spoke with a plant manager who said rings are used to loosen up stuck forges and at times, several forges can get stuck in a week and other times none get stuck for weeks. The plant manager said it was not common for a ring to break, but it has happened in the past.
Ladish is an extremely large company/industry with hammers, furnaces, hot-die forging presses, and other industrial machinery and equipment used to forge various types of metals, rolled forge rings, and other products and materials for aerospace and other industries.
Day was a hammer operator and worked at Ladish for 28 years. He made forged products out of metals for other companies and industries.