Family member reacts to OSHA ruling

Anfesa Galaktionoff
Anfesa Galaktionoff

Colleen Savage, mother of Anfesa Galaktionoff, the 28-year-old factory worker killed in a tragic accident at the Western Sugar plant in Lovell earlier this year, reacted to the news of the numerous safety violations imposed on Western Sugar Cooperative by OSHA with criticism that more precautions were not taken to protect workers at the factory.

“I can’t believe that this corporation doesn’t take better care of their employees or their reputation for that matter,” said Savage, who lives in Alaska. “Something so small as a couple of concrete bolts and less than one hour of labor to install them could have prevented this from happening to my precious daughter.

“Now I’ve lost a part of me that can never be replaced. The bond that we had from the day she was born was incredible. She was always there for me through thick and thin.  Even as a 6- year-old girl living in a broken home, she could always cheer me up by saying ‘I love you, Mommy.  We got each other. Everything will be ok.’

“Now our family has to live the rest of our lives lacking the love and joy that Anfesa brought to so many.  My prayers and sympathy go out to all of the employees in the Western Sugar Cooperative for their safety.”

Savage said she spoke to Roger Eaglestone of OSHA about a week before a news release outlining numerous safety violations and a proposed fine of $71,000 was sent out to the media. She said Eaglestone told her he couldn’t send her the reports until Western Sugar responded to the citations.  She said he told her the case had to be closed in order to release the reports to her and that as long as Western Sugar hasn’t responded, the case is still open.

Galaktionoff, a mechanics helper at the Lovell plant, died after falling through an unsecured grate into the beet wheel processing pit on Jan. 4, 2014. The factory was shut down on Jan. 12, during which time inspectors from both OSHA and the FDA were on site, investigating the accident.

The OSHA report this week through the Wyoming Dept. of Workforce Services listed a total of 12 violations, stating that, “This tragic loss of life could have been prevented. The employer failed to properly implement OSHA safety standards that require adequate guarding around floor openings.” (See related story).

Savage did not comment on whether or not the family is considering a lawsuit against Western Sugar in light of the information revealed in the OSHA report.

By Patti Carpenter