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Fatal accident at Tractor Supply Distribution Center highlights concerns over working conditions

A former employee says Butler's death was preventable.

MACON, Ga. — Dozens of comments and reactions have flooded into the 13WMAZ newsroom about working conditions at a south Bibb distribution center. It comes as a federal agency investigates how a Macon man died on the job at the Tractor Supply Distribution Center

Coroner Leon Jones says deputies and the fire department responded Thursday to a man pinned between a gun safe and a forklift. Authorities say they found 55-year-old David Butler dead. 

13WMAZ spoke with a former employee who says Butler's death was preventable. 

Some of the common themes were poor training, poor staffing and generally lax training here at the tractor supply Macon distribution center.

Quentin Johnson was one of those that commented. He says he worked at Tractor Supply for about three months in 2014 but was laid off. 

He says the working environment was always rushed but that says that should be expected in a busy distribution center--shipping out merchandise to Tractor Supply stores across the region.

However, he says essential training, specifically relating to safety, slipped through the cracks. 

"Stuff like this is uncalled for. Words can't sum up someone losing their life like that at work," Johnson said. 

Johnson says one problem he saw there was high turnover among employees, forcing the company to constantly have to train new people. 

"I would see new people coming in and getting hired, so instead of them just pausing and having safety meeting and taking the right precautions," Johnson said.

While employees at Tractor Supply mourn their coworker's death, OSHA is investigating the fatal accident. 

Tractor Supply confirmed in a statement Friday that OSHA personnel have been in their facility. The company says they are cooperating in the investigation and their number one priority is safety.

As for if the Tractor Supply Center in Macon has any prior violations with OSHA, the agency directed us to their online database. It shows no record of any inspection or violation at the facility since it opened in 2013. We asked OSHA for clarification on the online database. They did not respond. 

OSHA says their agency will not release any preliminary findings until this investigation is complete. 

Tractor Supply's Full Statement:

"All of us at Tractor Supply are mourning the loss of our Team Member and appreciate the support of the Macon community who have reached out to the family and Team Members as they continue to grieve. Counselors continue to be available and will be on site as long as needed to aid our Team Members.

In addition, we are continuing to work with our team to find out all the details of this terrible accident. OSHA personnel have been on site since yesterday and we are assisting them in their inquiry.

This facility has a safety committee that is comprised of hourly Team Members and management. We also have multiple other safety protocols that reinforce our ongoing commitment to safety.

Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our Team Members and customers. Our commitment to providing just that will not waver.”

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