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Employee dies in accident at Purple mattress factory that was previously cited for safety hazards

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GRANTSVILLE — Police have identified the 51-year-old employee who died Thursday after she was pulled into a machine at a Purple mattress manufacturing plant that federal regulators have previously cited for violations of workplace safety standards.

Anita Irene Coester succumbed to her injuries she sustained after her arm got caught, Grantsville Police Lt. Robert Sager said Friday.

After receiving a call about 4:40 p.m. Thursday, emergency crews arrived and pulled Coester from the machine. She could not be resuscitated and died from her injuries.

Grantsville police were helping to arrange mental health services for witnesses, Sager said.

"It's a tragic incident and people were upset," he recalled. Officers were called to the same factory about a month earlier because an employee was injured there, Sager told KSL.com.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the fatal accident.

The agency has conducted three inspections at the plant tied to accidents since 2018, including one that was opened two weeks ago and remains pending, according to online records maintained by the federal agency.

In 2018, its regulators imposed a $5,000 fine for a 2018 violation tied to service and maintenance of machines that can harm employees if they start up unexpectedly. They also issued a lesser penalty of $500 for a violation of Utah law requiring employers to report serious injuries or "occupational disease incidents within eight hours," the records show.

Additionally, the agency inspected the factory three times based on complaints since 2017, in one case citing Purple for hazards posed by ladders. In another case, it identified a violation of standards for wiring or other equipment.

Mattress manufacturer Purple said Thursday that its priority is the safety and health of its employees.

"We are saddened to report that a Purple employee was injured while working and later succumbed to her injuries at our Grantsville location," communications director Misty Bond said in a statement. "We have shut down manufacturing pending an investigation as we place the health and safety of our employees first and foremost. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. We ask that everyone please respect their privacy at this difficult time."

The company did not respond to an email Friday seeking comment on the OSHA inspections.

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