Smithfield Grain fined $43,750 after worker fell to her death

WILSON, N.C. (WITN) – An Eastern Carolina company has been cited and fined after a worker fell from a grain bin and died.

The mishap happened on June 30th at Smithfield Grain on U.S. 301 South in Wilson.

Police said Annie Wilbert, of Wilson, was pronounced dead when first responders arrived. The woman fell some 70 feet in the accident.

The North Carolina Department of Labor has fined Smithfield $43,750 after giving the company four serious violations.

State officials say the 58-year-old woman was riding a vertical belt manlift when the system stopped some two feet above the seventh-floor platform “then continued upward, transporting the employee over the drive pulley mechanism resulting in a fall”.

Investigators say the system stopped past an in-track safety device, with the employee able to restart it using a start/stop rope. They said the system should have undergone monthly inspections with limit switches checked weekly.

Smithfield has 15 days to pay the fine or appeal the citations. The company said it has received the citations and is reviewing them.