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Cone Mills Employee Dies in Plant Accident

NEW YORK — A Cone Mills Corp. employee died Wednesday after sustaining serious burns in an accident at the company’s Cliffside, N.C., dyeing facility.<br><br>The North Carolina Department of Labor is investigating the incident, primarily...

NEW YORK — A Cone Mills Corp. employee died Wednesday after sustaining serious burns in an accident at the company’s Cliffside, N.C., dyeing facility.

The North Carolina Department of Labor is investigating the incident, primarily to see if the safety training the Greensboro-based company provided the workers at the facility was adequate and if the equipment was in good condition, according to a spokesman for the department.

The Cone employee, Carla Marie Edwards, was 34. She sustained burns on 90 percent of her body after a dye vat that was filled with dye, water and other chemicals heated to more than 200 degrees opened on Feb. 14 and splashed her.

She was initially taken to a local medical center and later transferred to the Doctors Hospital in Atlanta, where she died.

The state DOL spokesman said: “We are in the process of finishing up the investigation and expect our final report in two to three weeks.”

The final report could determine that the event was a “sheer accident,” he explained, in which no steps would be taken against the company. If the report determines that the facility was in violation of health and safety laws, the company could be fined.

For 2001, the last full year on record, there were five recorded incidents in North Carolina textile mills that resulted in deaths, he said.

A Cone official said the company was doing its own investigation into the incident, in keeping with its safety policies, and said it would be “premature” to comment on what happened until the that process was complete.

Edwards had joined Cone in 1987. She lived in Boiling Springs, N.C.