Lawyers in our firm have filed a wrongful death lawsuit involving the tragic death of a young worker at an Alabama manufacturing plant. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family following the death Regina Allen Elsea, a 20-year-old worker, who was crushed while cleaning a robotics machine at a manufacturing plant located at Cusseta, Ala.
Ms. Elsea, a resident of Five Points, Ala., was sent with three coworkers to re-activate a robotics machine on June 18, 2016, after the assembly line stopped production. While Ms. Elsea was inside, the robot abruptly restarted, crushing her. She died from her injuries.
Due to this tragically preventable accident, the Elsea family is mourning the loss of their young family member, rather than celebrating her planned marriage, which should have occurred just weeks after her death.
It is most significant that the Cusseta manufacturer and two staffing agencies currently face a combined $2.5 million in fines by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). An investigation found the companies in violation of worker protection policies. Ajin USA manufactures metal parts for Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Alliance Total Solutions LLC and Joynus Staffing Corp. are staffing agencies that helped place Ms. Elsea with Ajin.
“This senseless tragedy could have been prevented if Regina Elsea’s employers had followed proper safety precautions,” according to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. Dr. Michaels added, “In addition, it is unfortunate that Hyundai and Kia, who set strict specifications on the parts they purchase from their suppliers, appear to be less concerned with the safety of the workers who manufacture those parts.”
OSHA cited Ajin USA for willfully failing to use energy control procedures; exposing workers to “caught-in, struck-by or crushing hazards;” failing to provide safety locks and exposing employees to crushing and amputation hazards among other violations. Dr. Michaels made this interesting observation:
Kia and Hyundai’s on-demand production targets are so high that workers at their suppliers are often required to work six and sometimes seven days a week to meet the targets. It appears that – to reduce its own costs in meeting these targets – this supplier cut corners on safety, at the expense of workers’ lives and limbs.
Among the citations to Ajin USA were:
- Failing to utilize energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing.
- Exposing workers to caught-in, struck-by and crushing hazards by allowing them to enter a robotic cell without shutting down and securing hazardous stored energy according to safety procedures.
- Failing to provide safety locks to isolation hazardous energy.
- Exposing employees to crushing and amputation hazards due to improper machine guarding.
The complaint has been filed in the Circuit Court of Chambers County, Alabama. Kendall Dunson, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury & Products Liability Section, will lead the litigation team in this case. This writer will be on the team along with Warner Hornsby from our firm and Tripp Walton, a lawyer from Auburn, Ala.