Firm Cited for 23 Violations After Robot Kills Bride-to-Be

Auto parts plant cut safety corners to meet high targets: OSHA
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 15, 2016 3:38 AM CST
Robot Kills Woman 2 Days Before Wedding
An assembly line at a Hyundai plant.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Federal authorities have announced nearly two dozen safety violations issued to an auto parts manufacturer after a bride-to-be who worked at its Alabama plant was crushed to death by a robotic machine. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday announced 23 violations after investigating the death at the Ajin USA plant in Cusseta, Ala., about 90 miles southwest of Atlanta, the AP reports. Regina Allen Elsea, 20, was killed June 18, two weeks before her planned wedding day, OSHA said in a statement. The assembly line had stopped, and Elsea entered a robotic station to clear a sensor fault. "The robot restarted abruptly, crushing the young woman inside the machine," OSHA said. Workers at the plant stamp metal parts for Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

OSHA said Ajin failed to have procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance, among other violations. OSHA also said it cited two employee staffing agencies with four other safety violations. Together, the three firms face a total of more than $2.5 million in penalties. OSHA official David Michaels says he traveled to Korea in 2015 to meet top Hyundai and Kia managers to warn them of "hazardous conditions" at their suppliers. The companies' production targets are so high "that workers at their suppliers are often required to work six and sometimes seven days a week to meet the targets," Michaels said in a statement. "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," he added. (More robot stories.)

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