As debate continues on whether Congress should pass a bill that would increase OSHA fines to discourage companies from disregarding safety, let’s take a look at how two other countries have recently handled corporate executives responsible for workplace disasters.
You’ve probably heard about the flood of nearly 200 million gallons of red sludge that poured from a plant in Hungary that manufactures aluminum. The flood killed eight people, injured hundreds, forced hundreds more from their homes and destroyed tens of millions of dollars in private property.
Among the measures taken by the Hungarian government: It has arrested the managing director of the company, MAL. Zoltan Bakonyi has been charged with criminal negligence leading to a public catastrophe. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
In another case, the project manager of a mining site in Australia will pay a heavy financial price for the death of an employee.
Paul Dale pleaded guilty to breaching workplace health and safety regulations.
Employee Alan Green was crushed to death when he was pinned between a water truck and a metal gate.
Dale had known that the hand brakes on the truck had failed but didn’t take the vehicle out of service.
An industrial magistrate said Dale was the site’s senior executive and had been aware of problems with the truck because it had rolled and hit a drill sump the day before.
Dale was fined $15,000 and was ordered to pay $50,000 in investigation and legal costs.
Dale has lost his company and now relies on consulting work for his livelihood.
Should the U.S. pass laws that would make it more likely that senior executives would be fined or go to jail for workplace safety breaches that cause deaths? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.