Two years ago, a 39-year-old man was killed in an industrial accident. He was caught in an unguarded, moving conveyor belt in March 2014.
The U.S. Department of Justice charged Behr Iron & Steel, a scrap metal processing plant with willfully violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, which resulted in the employee’s death at the company’s factory in Beloit, Illinois.
The plant did not provide lockout/tagout protection as required by OSHA. In addition, there was no confined space protection for employees that were cleaning a metal shredder discharge pit.
In federal court on Tuesday, March 8, Behr pleaded guilty to the charge. A statement from the company said, “Everyone at Behr was, and remains, deeply saddened by the death of our employee. While we had safety programs in place prior to the accident, since the accident we have worked with OSHA to create a safety program that we believe is unmatched in our industry….”
The Rockford U.S. Attorney’s office also released a press release, which said described the pit as being about and six feet wide and six feet long. That pit collects the shredded metals that don’t make the conveyor belt. Employees have to go down in the pit each day and clean it out by shoveling that metal up on the conveyor belt. This is what the employee was doing when he was killed.
The maximum sentence that Behr could receive is a fine of $500,000 and five years of probation. In addition, the victim’s family must be paid a sum to be determined by the court. The sentencing date is not until July 12.
Workplace accidents often occur when safety measures are overlooked or inadequate. It’s important to remember that safety is everyone’s concern and should not be overlooked.
A claim for compensation can be filed through workers’ compensation; however, you may want to speak with an Illinois attorney to learn what it all entails.
Source: beloitdailynews.com, “Behr admits safety issues in man’s death,” Robert Crozier, March 10, 2016