Company must answer for death of worker and pay millions in fines

Kansas residents should pay close attention to a case involving a plant in South Dakota. In the news, individuals often hear of injuries or even death occurring at various places of employment. However, this most recent case should prove to be illustrative for both employees and employers.

Adams Thermal Systems is a company that manufactures cooling systems for engines in both highway and off-highway vehicles. In 2011, an employee of the company was tragically killed in workplace related accident due to the company’s failure to provide a safe working environment. The worker was instructed by management to bypass a security measure in order to keep a machine that makes radiator cores running. The worker was crushed in the machine.

The company has finally reached a an agreement with both the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s office to pay just over $1.3 million in fines and criminal penalties as a result of the death of their employee. The settlement is composed of $450,000 which will go the widow of the deceased spouse, a criminal fine of an additional $450,000 and an OHSA fine of $435,000 as a result of over 66 violations.

When a workplace accident or death occur, the employer is liable to the injured worker or their family in the form of worker’s compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are both state and federal mandated. These benefits not only cover the negligence or carelessness of an employer, as in the above case, but it also covers instances where it is the employee who was being negligent. There are certain limits to worker’s compensation and employers may try to deny claims in particular situations, including ones involving drug or alcohol use by their employee.

Kansas residents who have been injured on the job should immediately file a claim for worker’s compensation benefits. Experienced legal professionals are available to assist victims and make sure that they receive all the compensation to which they are entitled and that they employer is brought to justice.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, “Adams Thermal Systems to pay $1.33 million to resolve OSHA citations, criminal penalties in 2011 death of worker at South Dakota plant,” Sept. 5, 2013