On Nov. 9, 2020, ALJoon LLC – operating as Ajin USA of Cusseta – was sentenced after entering a plea of guilty to a charge of willful violation of an OSHA standard. The company will pay a $500,000 fine and $1,000,000 in restitution to the estate of a temporary machine operator who suffered fatal crushing injuries in June 2016 at the auto parts manufacturer’s Cusseta, Alabama, facility.
DOJ instituted a criminal prosecution after an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), cited the company for 23 violations, including 19 egregious willful violations for failing to use energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance, and for exposing employees to caught-in, struck-by and crushing hazards. The enforcement action is currently pending before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
In the agreement, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Eastern Division, the company pleaded guilty to one count of willful violation causing death to an employee. The agreement also requires the company to adhere to a three-year safety compliance plan to improve Ajin USA’s hazardous energy control measures at the Cusseta facility by appointing a safety compliance officer, updating and improving lockout-tagout procedures, and appointing a third-party auditor to review those procedures. The company will remain on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Employers are responsible for worker safety and health,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Well-known safety procedures that could have prevented this tragedy were repeatedly ignored. The court has sent a clear message that such disregard for worker safety is unacceptable.”