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Auto parts maker must pay more than $1M in worker’s death


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has affirmed more than $1 million in fines against an Alabama automotive parts manufacturer after the 2016 workplace death of a 20-year-old machine operator who had worked at the plant for only about three months.

In a decision posted Thursday, the commission affirmed penalties against Cusseta-based Joon LLC, doing business as Ajin USA, over the June 19, 2016, death, which occurred one day after the woman suffered serious injuries when a robotic arm struck her as she attempted to troubleshoot a piece of malfunctioned equipment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company over 51 separate serious, willful and other-than-serious violations with total proposed penalties of $2,515,737.

The commission upheld $1,072,498 in fines, while vacating a remaining citation and penalties.  

At the time of her death, the worker entered an enclosure containing robots and machinery and tried to fix a sensor fault on a piece of equipment that stalled without adhering to proper lockout/tagout procedures designed to keep workers safe inside robotic cells, according to OSHA.

While inside, one of the robots energized and struck the woman, pinning her against another piece of machinery. She was taken to a hospital and subsequently died.

OSHA accused the company of knowing it was required to implement lockout/tagout procedures but failing to ensure supervisors and managers enforced such procedures.

The commission rejected an allegation by the company that it was targeted by OSHA because of “anti-Korean race bias.”

In a previous, separate criminal proceeding, the company pleaded guilty to willfully violating an OSHA standard that caused an employee death.