Auto Parts Supplier and Staffing Agencies Fined $2.5M after Death of Bride-to-Be

A temporary worker was fatally crushed by a robotic machine just two weeks before her wedding in JUne 2016, and OSHA has cited the host employer and two staffing agencies, proposing a total of $2.5 million in penalties.

OSHA reported it has issued a total of 23 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations to Joon LLC, doing business as Ajin USA of Cusseta, Ala., and stamping metal parts for Hyundai and Kia vehicles, after a temporary worker was fatally crushed by a robotic machine just two weeks before her wedding. Two staffing agencies, Alliance HR Inc., and Joynous Staffing Corp., were also cited for two serious safety violation apiece.

The worker, Regina Allen Elsea, age 20, and three co-workers entered a robotic station on June 18, 2016, to clear a sensor fault. The robot restarted abruptly and crushed the young woman, according to the agency's news release.

"This senseless tragedy could have been prevented if Regina Elsea's employers had followed proper safety precautions," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "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."

Willful citations were issued for failing to utilize energy control procedures, exposing workers to caught-in, stuck-by and crushing hazards, failing to provide safety locks to isolate hazardous energy, and exposing employees to crushing and amputation hazards.

After its investigation, OSHA issued the citations for 23 violations, including 19 egregious instance-by-instance willful violations, to Joon LLC and the two serious violations to the staffing companies. Collectively, the three companies face $2,565,621 in penalties for the violations.

OSHA noted in the release that Michaels visited Korea last year and met there with Hyundai and Kia's top managers to warn them of hazardous conditions at their suppliers in the United States. "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," he said. "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."

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