The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Maryland-based company for 11 violations for their role in the death of a 35-year-old worker. Eight of the 11 violations OSHA says the company committed were considered to have violated workplace safety standards. A fine accompanied the citations in the amount of $35,410.
According to federal officials, the accident occurred at the Maryland company's New Bedford, Massachusetts, shellfish processing plant on Jan. 16. Reports by the police and OSHA indicate the victim of the industrial accident was inside of a running shucking machine around 1:30 a.m. when the incident occurred. The long-time worker was attempting to clear a drainage pipe when he became entangled in a rotating shaft inside the machine.
The man had reportedly worked for the Maryland-based company for over 18 years. He was managed by a Rhode Island company contracted to provide the temporary laborers for the shell processing plant. OSHA also fined that firm $9,000 and cited them for five safety violations.
Critics of the fines say that they represent a small reprimand when compared to what it would cost for the company to implement measures that might have prevented the man's death. They argue that the small fines don't provide enough incentive for the parent company to make necessary safety improvements. An official with the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health says that many of the temporary workers are afraid to speak out about the safety violations due to their immigration status. According to MassCOSH, 22 workers have died from machine crushing injuries in Massachusetts since 2000.
Employers at industrial sites have a duty to train their employees to implement and monitor appropriate federal safety regulations into their everyday work practices. For example, every employee working around machinery needs to be trained on lock-out/tag-out procedures.
Workers injured during an industrial workplace accident may be entitled to recover compensation for their medical costs and lost wages through civil court if it can be determined that the accident was the result of employer negligence.