HELENA, Ala.—ABC Polymer Industries L.L.C. pleaded guilty in federal court in Alabama Jan. 10 to willfully violating safety regulations in a 2017 incident that saw an employee pulled into an extrusion line and killed.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which prosecuted the case for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, called the death of Catalina Estillado "entirely preventable" and said in a statement that the company should have known that routine practices in its Helena factory put employees at risk.
"This tragic loss of life could have been avoided by following federal safety standards," said Prim F. Escalona, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, in a statement.
DOJ said Estillado was pulled into a cluster of unguarded moving rollers and said the company "was aware that its employees routinely raised the guard on its machines to cut tangled plastic off the rollers."
"ABC Polymer also trained its employees to cut tangled plastic off the rollers while the rollers were in operation," DOJ said. "ABC Polymer admitted that it knew or should have known that these practices exposed employees to a risk of injuries and death in violation of federal law."
In a plea deal between the government and ABC, the company has agreed to pay a fine of $167,928, along with $242,928 and any unpaid funeral expenses to Estillado's estate. It also agreed to a two-year probation, including compliance with a safety plan, and waiving certain appeal rights.