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Alabama factory worker dies two weeks before her wedding after being crushed to death by robot

Jeff Martin, The Associated Press | December 15, 2016 2:35 PM ET
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ATLANTA — 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 U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday announced 23 violations after investigating the death at the Ajin USA plant in Cusseta, Alabama, about 90 miles southwest of Atlanta near the Georgia line.

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 in a statement.



YouTubeRegina Allen Elsea, 20, was killed by a machine at an Ajin USA factory

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, according to OSHA.

Ajin said in a statement that safety has always been its “guiding principle,” and that it fully co-operated with all aspects of OSHA’s investigation, and intends to continue co-operating in the future.

“We at Ajin remain deeply saddened over the tragic accident that took the life of one of our valued teammates, Regina Allen Elsea,” the company said.

But OSHA investigators said proper safety precautions could have prevented the death.

“This senseless tragedy could have been prevented if Regina Elsea’s employers had followed proper safety precautions,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of labour for Occupational Safety and Health, said in a statement.

“This was a preventable incident,” Petermeyer said. “Ajin USA only had to ensure that proper safety measures were followed to de-energize the robot before the workers entered the station.”

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