Intel is being sued for wrongful death by the estate of an Aloha man who alleges Intel's negligent safety standards led to field service technician Jay Elwell's death in July 2017.
Elwell was on the Intel campus as a contractor, sent out to perform maintenance on a Kardex vertical storage carousel—like a storage cabinet with a vertical conveyor belt inside that rotates multiple compartments around. The device was supposed to be off, or "de-energized" as the lawsuit says, but while Elwell was inside the machine working on it, the machine turned on, crushing Elwell to death.
The Oregonian first reported on the lawsuit this week.
The lawsuit alleges the accident could have been prevented if Intel had more stringent safety standards. The lawsuit claims Intel employees did not double-check to make sure the device was powered off, nor did they inspect the device for any safety defects or unsafe conditions before Elwell was allowed to climb inside for maintenance.
According to the accident investigation conducted by Oregon OSHA, Elwell went inside the vertical storage carousel to fix a stuck roller, when another employee operated the device to move the interior mechanism for Elwell to try and identify the problem, when the device's internal mechanism moved in the wrong direction, rotating Elwell around the interior of the machine. The other technician hit the emergency stop button, but by that point Elwell was stuck, and told the other technician "I'm going to die." He was reportedly inside the machine for 16 minutes before Intel's emergency responders were able to free him from the machine. By that time, Elwell had died from compression asphyxia.
Earlier this year, Intel received a citation from Oregon OSHA for the accident, while the contractor who employed Elwell received a $17,400 fine for failing to use a Lockout/Tagout system—where the individual servicing a hazardous piece of machinery would have the only key to turn it on, so it couldn't be turned on accidentally.
The lawsuit filed by Elwell's estate alleges a Lockout/Tagout system could have prevented Elwell's death.
"This is a tragic death, and Oregon law requires those in control of dangerous workplace situations have to take every device care and caution regardless of cost to ensure workplace conditions are safe," said Joe Piucci, the Elwell estate's attorney. "And there's a question if Intel did that here."
Intel Corporation has declined to comment at this time.