Knitting Machine Worker Accident

In a tragic incident at an American Apparel factory in Garden Grove, California, a 49-year-old man named Tuan Phan, a circular knitting machine operator, lost his life after being crushed by a circular knitting machine. The incident occurred on a fateful day when Phan was attempting to remove a jammed roll of fabric from the machine. This article delves into the details of the knitting machine worker accident, its consequences, and the broader implications for workplace safety.

American Apparel Employee Killed by Knitting Machine

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Emergency Response

  • On the day of the incident, emergency workers received a call at 2:39 p.m. reporting that a person was “stuck in a machine.”
  • Tuan Phan was promptly transported to the West Anaheim Medical Center.

Tragic Outcome

  • Unfortunately, less than 30 minutes after the accident occurred, Tuan Phan was declared dead at 3:12 p.m. at the West Anaheim Medical Center.

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Cal/OSHA Investigation

Preliminary Report

  • Patricia Ortiz, a spokesperson for California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), shared details of the initial investigation report.
  • The report indicated that Phan was attempting to remove a jammed roll of fabric from the circular knitting machine when the machine suddenly turned on, resulting in his tragic death.

Similar Incident

  • Notably, the report highlighted a similar incident that occurred at another American Apparel factory in Los Angeles in 2006.
  • In this incident, an employee entered a circular knitting machine to free jammed fabric, and a co-worker, unaware of their presence, turned on the equipment, resulting in a serious injury requiring an ear amputation.

Management Connection

  • Cal/OSHA pointed out that the general manager and plant manager of the Garden Grove facility were also managers at the Los Angeles facility during the 2006 accident.

American Apparel’s Response

Company Culture

  • American Apparel has been recognized for its immigrant-friendly and pro-labor factory environment, offering services such as English classes, aerobics, and massages to workers.

Founder’s Controversies

  • Despite the company’s positive initiatives, American Apparel founder Dov Charney faced multiple lawsuits alleging sexual harassment.
  • In 2010, the company was sued for firing a worker who took time off for chemotherapy treatments.

Official Statement

  • A spokesperson for American Apparel, Peter Schey, expressed condolences to Tuan Phan’s family and friends and stated that worker safety was CEO Dov Charney’s top priority.
  • The company is awaiting the results of Cal/OSHA’s investigation and is committed to supporting Phan’s family in any way possible.

Safety Measures for Knitting Machines

Flat Knitting Machines

  • Safety measures for flat knitting machines include metal cages, mesh backs, plastic guards, and more to prevent accidents.

Circular Knitting Machines

  • Circular knitting machines should have guarded pattern drums, isolation equipment, and interlocking guards, among other safety features.

Workplace Safety Practices

  • Safe systems of work should be in place to prevent operators from wearing loose clothing, jewelry, long hair, and unsuitable footwear.
  • Regular cleaning of drip trays, the use of emergency stop buttons, and safe access for threading yarn are vital for safety.


The tragic accident involving Tuan Phan serves as a somber reminder of the importance of workplace safety, particularly in industries that utilize heavy machinery. Cal/OSHA’s ongoing investigation aims to shed light on the circumstances leading to this accident and to ensure that measures are put in place to prevent such incidents in the future. It also highlights the need for companies to prioritize the safety and well-being of their employees, regardless of their positive initiatives in other areas. Workplace safety should always be paramount.

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