A Helena car wash was fined $2,819 by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for a June incident in which a worker lost part of his leg, officials said Wednesday.
Woody’s Car Wash did not ensure each employee less than 4 feet above dangerous equipment was protected from falling into the equipment when the equipment was not covered, according to the Oct. 19 OSHA citation.
OSHA also noted that on the day of and before the June 29 incident, employees “were exposed to amputation hazards while working near the exposed opening on the vehicle track.”
Attempts to reach Woody’s management on Wednesday were unsuccessful. In July they said they take “our workplace safety obligations seriously and were devastated by the accident and the injury to our employee.”
They also said they "immediately modified the equipment involved in the injury,”
Levi Gadaire was on the drying end of the car wash. He said a pickup truck had come through the line and he had his normal walking boots on rather than his water-repellent shoes. He went to the side of the truck. He said his leg fell into an open hole where the rollers go and got caught.
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He lost his right leg, below the knee. Doctors said they could not reattach the leg.
Gadaire said in July he planned to return to Woody’s, where he could possibly work in the booth or chat with customers until he graduates from college. His goal is to get his bachelor’s degree in computer science. On Wednesday he said he had yet to return to work, but added he recently had a second surgery and was expecting to get a prosthetic leg soon.
“I’m glad they didn’t get fined huge,” Gadaire, 47, said Wednesday of the fee levied by OSHA against the car wash.
Gadaire said he is often asked if he wants to return to Woody’s and says he tells folks: “Yes, because I can do school and work at the same time.”
“I can kill two birds with one stone,” he said.
Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.