Tempel Grain Elevators has pleaded guilty to federal workplace safety violations that contributed to the workplace death of a 17-year-old Haswell, Colorado, worker. Cody Rigsby died from asphyxiation in 2009 after he was engulfed in grain after entering a grain elevator that was being emptied.
The U.S. Attorney's Office recently charged the company with violating, as well as aiding and abetting, eight separate safety regulations. Following an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation in 2009, the company contested fines of almost $1.6 million for 22 willful and 13 serious citations regarding established safety standards in grain handling facilities.
A federal judge sentenced Tempel Grain to five years of probation, payment of fines and penalties, and additional payment of $500,000 in damages to Rigsby's family. The company must also no longer employ workers under age 18, after it was investigated for allowing teenage employees to perform jobs prohibited by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as OSHA hazardous occupations orders.
OSHA and other federal and state regulations promote safer conditions for American workers by enforcing standards and providing training. Colorado's workers compensation system provides important legal protections for injured workers to recover lost wages, medical expenses and other benefits in the aftermath of employment-related injuries.
In the event of a wrongful death, dependent survivors may be entitled to death benefits, including lifetime or lump sum payments to a widow or widower, as well as funeral and burial benefits. A Colorado workers compensation lawyer can explain a client's legal options, including the possibility of a third-party lawsuit against non-employers who contribute to a serious on-the-job accident.