Man in stable condition following second Hwashin accident

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Greenville man is listed in stable condition at Baptist South Hospital in Montgomery following a second accident in exactly a week at the Hyundai Tier I supplier Hwashin America.

Brandon D. Ball, 20, suffered a head injury inside the plant where he was repair welding at the time and fell into a coma, according to Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon and information on the Greenville Police report.

Whether Ball is still in the coma or not is unknown since his mother Barbara Ball told an Advocate reporter Friday morning that the family would not be making any statements.

The accident occurred just after 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to the report. Ball was then transferred from L.V. Stabler Hospital in Greenville to Baptist South.

Fellow Hwashin America employee Michael G. Mitchell, 29, of Georgiana died last Tuesday night when he was crushed by a coil of steel at the plant.

&#8220I'm concerned for the families and sympathies go out to both,” McLendon said. &#8220I'm confident that Hwashin will investigate these accidents thoroughly and will make the appropriate actions to see that this doesn't happen again.”

A compliance, safety and health officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration was on site Wednesday morning to conduct an investigation, said Jeff Funke, who is assistant area director of the Mobile office for OSHA.

Funke said this is the third time this year that OSHA has been called to the Hwashin America plant. The first time OSHA was called to the plant was on Feb. 14. It was then called to the plant on Feb. 28 regarding Mitchell's death and then on Wednesday regarding Ball's accident.

Funke said that OSHA also has conducted an inspection at Daehan Solution in Hayneville this year.

&#8220Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our two team members involved in recent accidents at our Greenville plant,” said Hwashin America spokeswoman Rhonda Simmons in a written statement released Thursday afternoon. &#8220The entire Hwashin America community is saddened by these tragic events. These accidents occurred despite the fact that we have a comprehensive safety program in place and despite the fact that safety is our number one priority.”

A witness told police that Ball was standing on a &#8220yellow mat” that would prevent the robotic arm from moving, but it struck Ball anyway.

The witness also told police that employees notified their supervisors three weeks ago that the mats were defective.

&#8220We care deeply about the health and safety of our team members, and we will continue to do everything possible to ensure a safe workplace,” Simmons said later in the statement.