It has been dubbed, “the widow maker,” and yet it is still in use by an estimated 1,000 workers at an Alabama shipyard. Per RevealNews.org, employees at Mobile’s Austal USA Shipyard continue to use a dangerous, modified version of a saw blade because of its availability and affordability, despite the fact that it has injured more than 53 workers at the shipyard within a relatively short span.
Used to cut and mold aluminum, the tool has been the subject of scrutiny for some time now, with the company’s own lead safety manager referring to it as, “an accident waiting to happen.” Originally designed to cut straight lines through metal, Austal officials redesigned the miller tool so that it would cut rounded edges into metal. The tool remains in use by about a quarter of the company’s workforce, despite internal records demonstrating the company had knowledge of its dangers dating as far back as 2011.
Additionally, AL.com reports that Austal has already faced fines in excess of $60,000 relating to the tool and the injuries it caused, among them lacerations and amputations, though the company is currently appealing the sanctions. Many of those harmed by the tool suffered injuries to their faces, arms and necks.
While Austal appeals its fines, it also faces a lawsuit filed by present and former employees who allege company safety managers were aware of the dangers associated with the tool, but that they made employees use it anyway. The tool’s supplier and manufacturer, too, are included in the lawsuit.