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American Apparel settles unsafe workplace charges for $1M

Posted On: Sep. 10, 2014 12:00 AM CST

American Apparel settles unsafe workplace charges for $1M

Clothing company American Apparel L.L.C. will pay a $1 million settlement for failing to provide a safe workplace after an employee died at a company worksite in Garden Grove, California, the Orange County, California, District Attorney’s Office said.

Tuan Phan died in August 2011 while working on a knitting machine that had been turned off but had not gone through log-out/tag-out procedures to ensure that the machine would be de-energized and remain inactive, the attorney’s office said Tuesday in a statement. Mr. Phan was inside of the knitting machine’s cage when the machine restarted and killed him.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office sought civil penalties against American Apparel, contending that the Los Angeles-based clothing company failed to train employees how to properly de-energize machines they were working on.

A judgment issued last month in Orange County Superior Court requires American Apparel to pay $150,000 in restitution to Mr. Phan’s daughter, $283,000 in administrative and investigation costs to the California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and $566,000 in civil penalties to the state of California.

“California labor codes require all California employers to provide a place of employment that is ‘safe and healthful for employees’ and to do everything ‘reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees’ at all times,” the district attorney’s statement reads. “American Apparel failed to properly train its employees regarding safety procedures and failed to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.”

An American Apparel representative did not respond to inquiries asking for a statement.