An administrative law judge affirmed a $1.3 million OSHA fine against a U.S. manufacturer that makes automotive parts for Hyundai and Kia following the 2016 death of a 20-year-old machine operator.
Joon LLC failed to protect the workers at its Alabama plant from crushing hazards associated with robotic machines used on its assembly lines, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission judge.
Robot restarted abruptly while workers were nearby
The company, operating as AJIN USA, contested OSHA citations after the agency’s investigation into the causes of how the 20-year-old woman suffered fatal crushing injuries from a robot on the production line.
Inspectors found that the machine operator and three of her co-workers entered a robotic cell on the assembly line to clear a sensor fault when one of the robots restarted abruptly and crushed the worker.
OSHA cited Joon for 51 safety violations, with 48 of those classified as willful. The judge upheld the majority of citations, resulting in more than $1.3 million in fines.
Company pleads guilty in criminal case
In a September 2020 criminal case, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Eastern Division, ordered the company to pay a $500,000 fine and $1 million in restitution to the worker’s estate. Joon pleaded guilty in that case to a charge of a willful violation of an OSHA standard.
“Failing to lock out equipment causes far too many serious injuries and deaths,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer said. “In this case, a young woman lost her life because her employer took shortcuts to minimize downtime and maintain production.”