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‘Walking the corn’ deaths lead to fines

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Mount Carroll-based Haasbach LLC has resolved 25 OSHA citations stemming from the deaths of two young workers at its grain bin facility.

In July 2010, Wyatt Whitebread, 14, and Alex Pacas, 19, were killed as they “walked down the corn” in a grain elevator after conveying machinery became jammed. They became trapped under 30 feet of corn and suffocated. A  20-year-old co-worker was also seriously injured in the accident.

Haasbach is no longer in business, but agreed to pay $200,000 to settle the OSHA charges.

Additionally, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division charged the firm with violating child-labor laws by employing workers under age 18 to perform hazardous jobs that are prohibited by the Fair Labor Stand­­ards Act. The company will pay $68,125 to settle those charges.

Haasbach still faces civil lawsuits filed by the families of Whitebread, Pacas and the other worker who was injured in the accident.

Note: Before assigning jobs, employers must be aware of which jobs minors may legally perform. Child-labor violations are a big DOL priority.

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