A Colorado grain elevator company is scheduled to plead guilty and be sentenced Aug. 5 in connection with the death of a 17-year-old worker who was buried alive in a grain bin in 2009.
Cody Rigsby died May 29, 2009, under several feet of grain inside a bin at the Tempel Grain Elevators facility in Haswell, CO.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a criminal charge of aiding and abetting and violating federal workplace safety regulations. The charge carries up to a $500,000 fine and one year of supervision.
The charges allege Tempel violated these OSHA regulations:
- not developing or implementing an emergency action plan
- not providing employees safety and health training
- failing to disconnect a bucket elevator while an employee was inside the bin
- directing an employee to enter a bin to make grain flow while it was being removed
- failing to station a trained observer, equipped to provide assistance, while an employee was in the bin, and
- ordering an employee to enter a bin that had a buildup of grain that could bury the employee.
Previously, OSHA issued $1,592,500 in fines against Tempel for 22 willful and 13 serious citations. The company contested the fines.
A judge put a stay on the OSHA fines until criminal proceedings end. The Pueblo Chieftain reports those criminal charges may be resolved in an Aug. 5 hearing.
An attorney for Tempel Grain says negotiations to resolve the charges are in their final stages.
The U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division conducted a separate investigation as a result of Rigsby’s death. The investigation uncovered 77 alleged child labor violations involving 15 minor employees, including employing underage workers and allowing them to work in jobs prohibited by federal regulations.
Tempel Grain has paid $61,847 in civil penalties for the child labor violations.