It was just announced that Hyundai’s SUV, the Santa Cruz, is going to be built in Montgomery. The car manufacturer’s announcement means a $410 million expansion bringing 1,200 new jobs with it. Alabama is the fifth largest producer of cars and light trucks nationally, and is a key player in the bustling automotive region in the Southeast. More jobs to the area are a welcome addition, but are these jobs safe for just anyone?
The auto industry has been making itself at home in Alabama for several years, but at a human cost that leaves many employees filing workers’ compensation claims. It’s ironic when cars are largely assembled by robotics. The state has already welcomed Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, Inc., and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama. With production plants come parts manufacturers, so it stands to reason the injuries are sure to follow.
Serious accidents can be easily prevented
Auto workers being injured on the job is a significant issue in the industry. Lack of education on safety protocols and equipment training is a commonly found thread in accident reports and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigations. These factors have led to everything from horrific amputations to tragic deaths of plant employees in Alabama.
In addition to the failure of auto makers to provide proper training, production quotas create a separate threat to safety. Employees work longer than normal hours to make their numbers, operating machinery under physical and mental exhaustion that can lead to accidents.
On June 18, 2016, at the Ajin USA plant in Cusseta, Alabama, a young woman was crushed then impaled by welding tips, dying the following day. She was attempting to remove a bolt stuck in a robotic machine on the assembly line. It was quickly realized that she had not received proper training on safety procedures for working on the machine in her area. She failed to take a crucial step by locking out the emergency power switch so the robot turned itself back on once she freed the bolt. She was stuck for several minutes, aware of her situation, because nobody around her had that training either.
In an OSHA news release dated October 21, 2019, “cited Strahle + Hess USA Inc. for exposing employees to amputation hazards at the company’s Auburn, Alabama, facility.” An employee lost a finger during a mishap with a lamination machine without use of proper guarding and for failing to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures to minimize hazards.
While vehicle and parts manufacturing plants bring employment opportunities to the area, they need to focus their efforts on making safety and equipment training a top priority to minimize worker injuries and fatalities.
At Mezrano Law Firm, we pride ourselves on supporting employees’ rights and are honored to be chosen by our clients as their Alabama workers’ compensation attorney. We understand the intricacies of how to protect your legal rights and obtain the maximum benefits you are entitled to receive. Insurance companies are not in your corner, but you will know that we are. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation reach out to us through our contact page, or call 205-206-6300 to schedule an appointment. For your convenience we have offices located in Birmingham, Mobile, Florence, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, and Montgomery. Don’t wait. Give us a call today.