Supervisors sentenced for role in fatal industrial accident

Supervisors sentenced for role in fatal industrial accident

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

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