PAWTUCKET – A 20-year-old Pawtucket man suffered the loss of his left hand as he worked with a plastics manufacturing machine at Teknor Apex Co. on Thursday night, police stated Friday.
Maj. Arthur Martins stated three officers responded to the building at 505 Central Ave. shortly after 9:15 p.m. when a “9-1-1” call reported an industrial accident. Pawtucket Fire and Rescue personnel from the nearby Cottage Street station raced to the scene and transported Joseph Vaillencourt, of Farnum Street, to Rhode Island Hospital for surgery.
Authorities claimed Vaillencourt's hand became caught in the machine, one that transfers plastics to another, and it somehow was amputated, apparently three inches above the wrist. Vaillencourt had been employed as a production worker.
“We don't have an update as to the victim's condition; we know his hand was severed somewhere in the forearm area,” Martins said, adding that representatives of the Occupations Safety and Health Administration were called in to investigate the incident.
“OSHA is looking at what happened, but our detectives are treating it strictly as an accident,” Martins noted. “OSHA was in the process of disassembling the machine in an effort to locate the body part.”
Pat Griffin, OSHA's Area Director, indicated Friday morning he had been notified of the accident at approximately 9:50 p.m., and he immediately sent an inspector to Teknor Apex. He also stated he conducted a special meeting at 8:30 a.m., Friday, and asked two inspectors to travel from Providence to Pawtucket to further investigate exactly what happened and why.
“I don't have any information about the victim's hand, as we're still investigating,” he said. “We have 180 days by statute to complete the investigation … All I know is the company makes some kind of plastic material, and I don't know the name or the product number of the machine.
“It's more than unfortunate, especially given the time frame, being so close to the Christmas and the holidays,” he continued, noting one news agency had revealed that everyone involved were unable to save the hand.
“It's terrible; the man is just 20-years-old,” he said. “I don't know what his situation is, but it's a very sad accident.”
Teknor Apex is a privately-held company founded in 1924, with its global headquarters located in Pawtucket. Eight of its divisions are located in the United States, with one each in Singapore, China, Belgium and the United Kingdom.
According to its Web site, it's a diversified material science company that uses complementary technologies to serve common markets. Those materials include vinyl, thermoplastic elastomers, nylon, bioplastics and chemicals.