S.D. plant fined $1.33 million in worker’s death

OSHA, U.S. Attorney settle case with Adams Thermal Systems Inc.


A South Dakota manufacturer has agreed to pay $1.33 million in fines and penalties following the death of a worker at its plant in 2011.

Canton, S.D.-based Adams Thermal Systems Inc., a manufacturer of engine cooling systems for off-highway and on-highway vehicles, settled the case with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and OSHA before a trial on the worker’s death was to begin. The settlement calls for $450,000 to be paid to the worker’s wife, $450,000 paid in criminal penalties and a $435,000 payment to OSHA for the violations that led to the workers’ death as well as subsequent violations found at the plant.

On Nov. 7, 2011, 42-year-old Larry Kinzer was killed when he was crushed in a machine that makes radiator cores. OSHA officials said in a press release that the accident occurred, “After management instructed and authorized workers to bypass the manufacturer’s barrier guard in order to adjust the machine to keep it running. OSHA also conducted two concurrent safety and health investigations at the company in February 2012, which resulted in 66 violations.”

“Adams Thermal failed to provide a safe workplace, and those conditions ultimately took the life of a worker. There is no excuse for an employer to compromise safety to keep production running,” said OSHA administrator Dr. David Michaels. “The Department of Labor has worked diligently with the office of the United States Attorney for South Dakota to resolve this case and provide justice to the family of this worker. No one should ever lose their life for a job.”

“The purpose of this settlement, which was reached after discussions with the victim’s family, is to provide justice to the family and deter similar corporate conduct in the future,” said U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson. “The right of South Dakotans to a safe work environment isn’t optional, it is fundamental. I commend OSHA for their investigative efforts, and I am pleased with the settlement that has been reached.”

According to OSHA, as part of the settlement of both the criminal and OSHA investigations, Adams Thermal Systems agreed to a number of changes in its operation. They include:

  • Increasing the size of its safety and health department
  • Implementing a companywide safety and health program
  • Providing incentives for managers and workers to report safety issues and make safety recommendations
  • Hiring a qualified third-party to review guarding and lockout/tagout for all plant machinery and to audit the abatement of all identified hazards.

“The company will also report quarterly to OSHA for three years on safety progress and reportable illnesses and injuries, and redesign the safety systems and procedures on the radiator core machine involved in the fatality,” OSHA officials said in a press release.

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