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Alabama Tragedy Shines Light On Dangerous Factory Conditions
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Alabama Tragedy Shines Light On Dangerous Factory Conditions

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After a young Alabama woman’s fatal accident, a new, yet familiar, light is being shined on many low paying labor jobs in the United States.

According to the Financial Times, Regina Elsea, 20, of Chambers County, Alabama, was planning to walk down the aisle on her wedding day two weeks before she was killed in a factory.

Elsea was struggling to earn enough money to pay for the wedding, including her expensive $4,000 dress, so she took a job working for the Ajin USA auto parts plant. She was able to find a good factory job because Alabama, especially Chambers County, has been experiencing a manufacturing revival.

During a Saturday shift, a large robot that Elsea was operating stopped working properly. She and three of her coworkers attempted to fix the machine. Elsea stepped inside the robot’s cage and the robot abruptly started working again, crushing Elsea. She was transported to the East Alabama Medical Center, subsequently flown to UAB Hospital, and died the following morning from her injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict regulations when it comes to large machinery; like the rule that cranes must be completely assembled on solid, firm ground that is drained and graded sufficiently, along with adequate support and levelness. OSHA has even stricter rules when it comes to immediate workplace safety, and the federal administration ruled that the accident that killed Elsea was preventable.

“This senseless tragedy could have been prevented if Regina Elsea’s employers had followed proper safety precautions,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “In addition, it is unfortunate that Hyundai and Kia, who set strict specifications on the parts they purchase from their suppliers, appear to be less concerned with the safety of the workers who manufacture those parts.”

WKRN reports that OSHA sent Michaels to Korea in 2015 to warn Kia and Hyundai about these hazardous robotic conditions at their supplier factories. Along with Elsea’s accident, OSHA fined Ajin for 22 other federal safety violations, resulting in a $2.5 million fine.

When these kinds of accidents happen, not only does the offending company suffer from emotional grief and financial restitution, but the popularity of their business usually suffers as well. Over 50% of local search engine queries are performed on a mobile device, and if Internet users come across this negative press, they will surely look to do business elsewhere.

Regina’s mother, Angel Ogle, was obviously devastated after the machine took her daughter’s life. Despite a push by President Trump to increase industrial employment throughout the country, Ms. Ogle wants to spread more awareness about the dangers of these factories.

“Everybody needs to know what’s going on in those plants,” said Ms. Ogle, who worked for a similar auto parts maker in Alabama in the past. “I have seen too many people get hurt.”

Across Alabama and Georgia during the 2015 to 2016 year, a total of 12 Kia and Hyundai workers had to have a limb or extremity amputated.

“They have no idea what they took from me and my family,” Ms. Ogle added. “My world will never be the same again — she is my baby, my world, my everything.”