A South Dakota manufacturer has agreed to pay $1.3 million in fines and criminal penalties to avoid prosecution for workplace safety violations that resulted in an employee's death.
In exchange for amnesty from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Adams Thermal Systems will pay $450,000 to its deceased employee's spouse, $450,000 in criminal penalties and $435,000 in OSHA fines.
The deceased employee was crushed to death while working on a machine used to make radiator cores. Employees working on the machine had been told by management to bypass the safety barrier on the machine.
After the death, OSHA came to inspect the company twice, during which it uncovered more than 60 additional violations. Almost all of the citations issued were considered serious, with eight being classified as less-than-serious; the violations covered a wide array of safety concerns.
The citation issued as a result of the death was considered to be willful, which is why the case was referred to the Attorney General for criminal prosecution.
Along with the monetary fines, Adams Thermal Solution has agreed to:
Increase the size of its safety and health department;
Implement a safety and health program; and
Hire an outside party to review lockout/tagout procedures and audit all agreed-upon changes.
For the next three years, the company will report quarterly to OSHA on both its safety progress and its reportable injuries and illnesses. The company will also redesign the safety features surrounding the machine that led to the death of the worker.
As a result of the death and the two follow-up inspections, OSHA placed Adams Thermal Solutions on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which requires targeted follow-up inspections to the businesses that are part of the program.