Manufacturer to Pay $1.3M in Penalties, Fines for Worker Death in South Dakota

September 10, 2013

Federal officials announced that Adams Thermal Systems Inc. has agreed to pay more than $1.33 million to resolve criminal penalties and fines in a prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration as a result of the death of a worker on Nov. 7, 2011, in the company’s Canton, S.D., plant.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed the deferred prosecution agreement on Sept. 5, 2013, and has asked that it be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota.

Under the terms of the agreement, the company will pay the worker’s surviving spouse $450,000, a criminal fine of $450,000 and the full OSHA fine of $435,000 stemming from the regulatory violations that caused the fatality and additional violations discovered in subsequent inspections.

OSHA’s investigation found the worker was fatally crushed in a machine used to make radiator cores, after management instructed and authorized workers to bypass the manufacturer’s barrier guard in order to adjust the machine to keep it running. OSHA also conducted two concurrent safety and health investigations at the company in February 2012, which resulted in 66 violations.

Because the willful violations cited by OSHA caused the worker’s death, the case was referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota in November 2012 for criminal prosecution. Criminal Chief Dennis Holmes handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The agreement resolves both of the OSHA civil cases, and includes significant enhanced abatement of violations by the company.

According to prosecutors, Adams Thermal Systems agreed to: increase the size of its safety and health department; implement a company-wide safety and health program; provide incentives for managers and workers to report safety issues and make safety recommendations; and to hire a qualified third-party to review guarding and lockout/tagout for all plant machinery and to audit the abatement of all identified hazards.

The company will also report quarterly to OSHA for three years on safety progress and reportable illnesses and injuries, and redesign the safety systems and procedures on the radiator core machine involved in the fatality.

The agreement will resolve three willful citations issued for $210,000 on April 26, 2012, as a result of the fatality investigation.

The settlement also resolves the additional citations issued on August 2012, following two concurrent comprehensive safety and health inspections, with proposed penalties of $225,000.

The comprehensive safety and health cases involved 58 serious violations and eight other-than-serious violations addressing unlabeled piping systems; obstructions in aisles and passageways; unguarded machinery; crane and hoist hazards; improper exits; electrical hazards and exposures to chemicals, dust, and noise.

OSHA placed Adams Thermal Systems, which manufactures engine cooling systems for off-highway and on-highway vehicles, in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program in August 2012 as a result of these inspections. The program mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota

 

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Latest Comments

  • September 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm
    Brokette says:
    The government takes two-thirds and the widow gets one-third? Seems the criminal penalty money would be put to better use by the deceased's family.
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