Two former supervisors at a California plastics factory has entered a 'no
contest' plea in connection with charges stemming from a fatal 2009
explosion. The men, who had been in charge of the plant at the plastics
company in Rancho Santa Margarita, must pay restitution to the families
of two victims who died in the
industrial accident. In addition to that $450,000 payment, the men will also be required to
perform 250 hours of community service; in exchange, they will be permitted
to avoid jail time.
Authorities report that the men were responsible for the fatal decision
to purchase a residential hot-water system from a hardware store instead
of using an appropriate commercial system for a certain type of plant
process. Plant leaders were reportedly attempting to circumvent an expensive
permitting process that would have been required to operate an industrial
boiler that was already at the site. Instead of obtaining those permits,
the smaller heater was purchased instead.
The water heater had been modified at the plant so that it would support
the manufacturing efforts. Those modifications and the high demands put
on the machine ultimately led to an explosion in March 2009 that killed
two factory workers and led the plant to permanently shutter its doors.
The plant was briefly shut down in February 2009 for the safety violation
but soon reopened using the same inadequate machinery.
Workers should be able to trust their supervisors to make appropriate decisions
about processes and equipment on the job. No employee should die in a
work-related accident because of such negligent decision-making. Relatives
of workers who have been killed on the job may be entitled to workers'
compensation and other financial awards. A California attorney may be
able to help these families learn more about their legal options.
Source: EHS Today, "Plant Leaders Agree to Pay $450,000 to Families of Workers Killed in 2009 Explosion" Josh Cable, Feb. 21, 2014