WASHINGTON — Ajin USA, a global supplier to Hyundai and Kia, must pay more than $1.3 million in penalties to address safety violations following the 2016 death of a machine operator at an Alabama manufacturing plant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on Wednesday said it has affirmed citations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after Joon LLC — operating as Ajin USA — disputed them.

The commission, an independent federal agency, was created to decide challenges of citations or penalties resulting from OSHA inspections.

An OSHA investigation into how the 20-year-old woman at the Cusseta, Ala., plant suffered fatal crushing injuries in June 2016 found that the woman and three co-workers “entered the robotic cell on the assembly line to clear a sensor fault when a robot inside the cell restarted abruptly,” according to a news release.

OSHA cited Ajin USA for 51 safety violations, including 48 willful violations. Last month, an administrative judge upheld the majority of those violations.

“No violation or penalty can recover a life lost needlessly,” Tremelle Howard, a regional solicitor for the labor department in Atlanta, said in a statement. “This case’s resolution serves as a stark reminder to all employers that the U.S. Department of Labor will exhaust all available resources and actions to hold them accountable when they fail to meet federal requirements to protect the safety and health of their employees.”

In a September 2020 criminal case, a U.S. District Court in Alabama ordered Ajin USA to pay a $500,000 fine and $1 million in restitution to the deceased woman’s estate after the company pleaded guilty to a charge of willful violation of an OSHA standard, according the release.

Ajin USA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



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