OSHA Fines Grain Company $1.6M for Death

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (UPI) — The U.S. occupational safety watchdog ordered a Colorado company to pay $1.6 million after a 17-year-old worker died in a grain elevator in May.

Cody Rigsby’s death at Tempel Grain’s Haswell, Colo., elevator led to Monday’s announcement of the federal fines, the second-largest total in Colorado for labor and safety violations, The Denver Post reported Tuesday.

Besides Rigsby’s death — which occurred when he fell into a bin and was smothered by grain — the U.S. Labor Department said 15 other teenage workers were exposed to hazards at Tempel Grain Elevators, which is based in Wiley, Colo.

An investigation by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after Rigsby’s death uncovered the company had many violations in safety, child labor, and labor and wages, the agency said. The Labor Department also found the company employed a 13-year-old, a violation of federal law.

“Tempel Grain ignored long-established standards addressing safety in grain-handling facilities. It was well aware of the hazards and knowingly put its young workers in harm’s way,” U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a release. “From safety to wage and hour issues, the company created a hazardous and illegal working environment for its workers.”

The largest fine in Colorado was levied in 1991, when OSHA slapped luggage-maker Samsonite Corp. with a $1.8 million fine for “egregious” workplace safety violations at its Denver plant, the Labor Department said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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