In a rare criminal prosecution of a company for safety violations, a California-based company will pay $1.65M in connection with the deaths of five workers in a fire at a power plant in Colorado.
RPI Coating, Inc., pleaded guilty to five counts of violating a federal OSHA regulation, one for each worker’s death.
The breakdown of what RPI will pay:
- more than $1 million to the families of the five employees who were killed
- $205,800 to four workers who were injured
- $275,000 to the attorneys for the families and injured workers, and
- a $100,000 OSHA fine.
As part of the plea agreement, RPI is also on probation for five years. If it has another willful safety violation during that period, it could face an additional fine of up to $2.5 million.
In 2007, a fire at the Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant near Georgetown, CO, killed five workers and injured four others. The workers were using flammable chemicals to re-coat the inside of a large water pipe. The chemicals ignited inside the pipe. The fire blocked the workers’ only escape route. The men died of smoke inhalation. RPI employed the workers.
A jury acquitted Xcel Energy, the owner of the power plant, of charges in a month-long trial.
Charges were dismissed against RPI’s president and another company executive as part of the plea deal.
The families and workers agreed not to file additional lawsuits against RPI.