Fatal Robotics Accident at AL Auto Parts Plant Due to Lockout Failures

Cusseta, AL –  Ajin USA, Alliance Total Solutions, and Joynus Staffing Corp., have been issued fines of over $2.5 million by the Department of Labor. The auto parts supplier and the two staffing agencies it employed were issued 27 separate OSHA citations for safety violations following the investigation of the June 2016 death of Regina Allen Elsea.

The fines and citations came in response to the death of a 20-year-old worker who was crushed to death in a robotic machine. Tragically, the accident took place just two weeks before the woman’s wedding.

OSHA’s investigators reported that Elsea and three coworkers entered a robotic station to clear a sensor after the assembly line stopped. The robot within unexpectedly restarted, and the woman was crushed to death inside the machine.

Ajin USA makes parts for Hyundai and Kia and employs around 700 workers at it’s Cusseta plant. Alliance and Joynus, with offices in Opelika (AL), provide about 250 temporary workers to Ajin USA, as reported in a DOL statement.

OSHA is calling this a “senseless tragedy,” and has determined that the fatality could have been prevented by following federally mandated safety precautions such as lockout/tagout and machine guarding.

Citations and causes of the accident included the following: Failure to utilize energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing; workers’ exposure 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; Failure to provide safety locks to isolation hazardous energy; and employee exposure to crushing and amputation hazards due to improper machine guarding.

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