An Illinois scrap metal processor last week pleaded guilty to willful violations of federal workforce safety regulations that resulted in the death of an employee.
Behr Iron & Steel of Rockford admitted as part of a plea deal that the company failed to provide required protections for workers cleaning a metal shredder discharge pit at a facility in South Beloit, Illinois.
In March 2014, a Behr worker died at the plant after his arm was caught by a conveyor belt while cleaning the discharge pit.
Federal prosecutors said that the conveyor belt did not have guards to protect employees, adequate confined space protections or a lock or emergency shut-off switch.
In addition, Behr employees were not adequately trained to use the shredder or conveyor belt.
“Safety training at the plant was woefully insufficient," said Ken Nishiyama Atha, regional administrator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Chicago. "Behr must be held responsible by the courts for ignoring safety standards and failing in its obligation to protect its workers on the job.”
Sentencing is scheduled for July 12. The company faces up to five years' probation and $500,000 in fines, and could be required to pay court-determined restitution to the victim.