What steps are you taking to ensure that your clients are providing a safe work environment for your temp workers?
If one of your temp workers gets injured – or worse – on the job, you may be held liable. Joon LLC (dba Ajin USA), an auto supplier in Cusseta, Ala., along with two staffing firms – Alliance Total Solutions and Joynus Staffing Corp., collectively face $2,565,621 in penalties for federal safety and health violations.
Like most manufacturers, Ajin, which stamps metal parts for Hyundai and Kia vehicles, takes advantage of robotic machines. On June 18, 2016, 20-year-old Regina Allen Elsea, who was employed as a temporary worker, was crushed to death in a robotic machine. Apparently, the auto assembly line halted, as a sensor on a robot appeared to be malfunctioning. Elsea and three coworkers entered the robotic station to fix the faulty sensor. Suddenly, the robot restarted, crushing Elsea and knocking her unconscious.
She died the following day at University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital, two weeks before her wedding day.
An investigation of the accident by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration led the agency to issue citations to Joon for 23 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations, including 19 egregious instance-by-instance violations. The two staffing agencies were also cited $24,924 each for two serious safety violations – failing to utilize specific safety procedures to control potentially hazardous stored energy during maintenance and servicing and not providing or ensuring employees had locks to properly shutdown machinery.
According to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, “Kia and Hyundai’s on-demand production targets are so high that workers at their suppliers are often required to work six and sometimes seven days a week to meet those targets. It appears that – to reduce its own costs in meeting these targets – this supplier cut corners on safety, at the expense of workers’ lives and limbs.”
Alliance and Joynus provide approximately 250 temporary employees to Ajin. Elsea was hired to work at Ajin through Alliance.
According to a Payday Report article, the National Employment Law Project Senior Fellow, Deborah Berkowitz, who served as chief of staff of OSHA from 2009 to 2013, says the $2.5 million fine is larger than any fine OSHA issued throughout 2015.
While the article mentions that OSHA’s Regional Emphasis Program was designed to crack down on safety violations in the auto industry in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, Southern lawmakers believe the program is a disguise to target Southern auto plants with inspection in order to help union drives.
But aren’t these lawmakers missing the point? Why aren’t they stressing the importance of safety on the plant floor?
OSHA has since placed Ajin in its Severe Violators Enforcement Program that focuses on recalcitrant or disobedient employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
Knowing this, would your staffing agency continue to support companies like Ajin with temp workers? What about your other clients? Do they observe and enforce OSHA’s safety regulations?
This may be a good time to add workplace safety to your criteria for the type of employers you partner with and assist by placing temp workers in their plants or factories. Then maybe Elsea’s death won’t be in vain.