BIRMINGHAM, AL – An Alabama plastics manufacturing company has pleaded guilty to a willful violation of workplace safety requirements as part of an agreement filed in federal court spurred initially by a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into a 45-year-old worker’s death in Helena in August 2017.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Alabama prosecuted the case.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, the agreement also requires ABC Polymer Industries LLC to pay $242,928 in restitution plus funeral expenses to the fallen worker’s estate. The company must also pay $167,928 in penalties and serve two years of probation, with terms including participating in an enhanced compliance and auditing program. In 2018, the company paid $155,338 in penalties assessed by Occupational Safety and Health Administration after its investigation into the incident.

“Let the resolution of this case serve as a stark reminder to all employers that the U.S. Department of Labor will exhaust all available resources and actions to hold them accountable when they fail to meet federal requirements to protect the safety and health of their employees,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta. “No violation or penalty will recover a life lost in a needless tragedy. The court’s action seeks to find justice for the worker and their family.”

An OSHA investigation determined the ABC Polymer Industries’ employee suffered fatal injuries after she was pulled into the moving rollers of a plastics extrusion machine. As a result, the agency issued the company one willful citation for failing to provide machine-guarding to protect employees from caught-in and amputation hazards. OSHA also cited the company for lack of specific safety procedures to shut down or isolate stored energy, and its failure to install a rail system on both sides of an open platform.

“Failing to install and maintain protective guarding on machinery causes far too many serious injuries and deaths,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta. “Employers can prevent these types of tragedies. In this case, ABC Polymer Industries learned that terrible lesson.”

Founded in September 1994, ABC Polymer Industries LLC produces extruded polypropylene products, including microsynthetic and macrosynthetic concrete fibers. The company is a major distributor of bulk bags, fibrillated yarns, synthetic snow and more.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.

Visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.

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