A manufacturing company has been fined $1.5 million dollars after one of its robots crushed a worker to death and killed her. Ajin USA admitted violating the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act at a court hearing Monday, and was hit with the charge over the death of 20 year-old Regina Elsea.
Elsea was working at Ajin’s metal stamping plant in Chambers County, Alabama, when she was killed in June 2016. She had entered an enclosure, known as a ‘cell’, to try and fix a fault with a sensor. But Elsea died after one of the machines suddenly started up and crushed her with its robotic arm.
Ajin, which makes parts for Hyundai and Kia, admitted not enforcing safety procedures called ‘lockout/tagout’, which are designed to keep machines completely switched off during maintenance. The company had developed the required procedures, but its supervisors had failed to bother implementing them in the two years leading up to Elsea’s death. In the 15 minutes leading up to the tragedy, workers had entered enclosures with live machinery five times, with supervisors not making any attempt to reprimand or stop them.
Two of those instances saw supervisors themselves entering without powering the equipment down. Ajin was fined $500,000 – the maximum amount allowed under the law, and ordered to pay $1m to Elsea’s estate. The young worker dreamed of being a paediatrician, and took the job at Ajin to pay for her upcoming wedding, as well as her car. The manufacturer has also been put on probation for three years, which will include regular independent audits of its safety procedures. Prosecutor Louis Franklin said after the ruling: ‘Every worker expects to return home safely at the end of his or her shift”.
Ajin failed to comply with the OSH Act and, as a direct result of their failure, Regina Elsea did not return home safely at the end of her shift. ‘Her death was preventable and Ajin’s failure to keep her out of harm’s way is inexcusable.’
Source: Metro UK