Plant managers plead guilty to obstructing a fatality investigation
A former manager at an Ohio manufacturing plant will be spending some weekends in jail on charges related to an employee fatality. His associate, another former manager at Extrudex Aluminum in North Jackson, Ohio, will have three months of home confinement.
The U.S. District Court sentencing of Brian L. Carder and Paul Love came after each man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice charges. The court’s action follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) that found the managers attempted to hide information and intimidate employees from speaking to OSHA investigators about the fatal October 2012 incident.
A 21-year-old Extrudex Aluminum employee suffered fatal injuries when a rack containing hot aluminum parts tipped over and pinned him in an oven. A co-worker also suffered severe injuries.
Coerced subordinates, lied to OSHA
The indictment states Carder and Love devised a plan to coerce subordinates – by suggesting their jobs might be in jeopardy – to draft statements to recant previous emails about safety issues at the plant to conceal that management had not acted on those concerns. During an OSHA interview, Love also gave false information about safety issues.
Carder has been sentenced to three years of probation with weekend only confinement for the first five months and ordered to pay a fine of $20,100. Love was sentenced to three years of probation – including three months of home confinement – and ordered to pay a fine of $1,100.
In a settlement agreement with OSHA, Extrudex Aluminum accepted one willful and seven serious citations, and agreed to pay a $112,000 penalty.
Company concealed knowledge of a felony
The District Court sentenced Extrudex Aluminum to three years’ probation, and ordered the company to pay a $250,400 fine after pleading guilty to concealing knowledge of a felony in connection with efforts to hide information from OSHA inspectors. The company must also have an outside safety auditor monitor their workplace for compliance for the next two years. During the sentencing hearing, Extrudex Aluminum provided the court with information on how the company has now fully automated the extrusion heating process to prevent employee exposure to the hazard that led to the fatality.
“Employers cannot mislead or coerce workers to mislead federal investigators,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "Further, employers are required to operate workplaces free of hazardous conditions posing risk to worker safety and health.”
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio prosecuted the cases, with assistance from the Department’s OIG and OSHA.