Following the accident where two 17-year-old workers who were entangled in a grain auger — inflicting injuries that resulted in amputation injuries to their legs — a small fine for the company that runs a Kremlin, OK, grain elevator were described as “an insult to justice” by the Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.
Bryce Gannon, 17, and Tyler Zander, 17, each lost a leg after they became trapped in an auger at Zaloudek Grain Co., he says. Gannon was released from the hospital, while Zander was upgraded to stable condition, an OU Medical Center spokeswoman reports.
Zaloudek Grain Co. was fined $75 for failing to provide workers' compensation insurance for each of the injured employees and for each of its eight other employees, Costello says.
The state Labor Department is limited to a $75/employee fine if a company regains compliance within 30 days after the agency learns it is out of compliance, he says.
“It's not even a slap on the wrist, in my opinion,” Costello says. “Sadly, that is the minuscule maximum award.”
Zaloudek Grain Co. had not carried workers' compensation insurance for its employees during the five months before the accident, Costello explains. He says Zaloudek obtained coverage five days after the accident, which he described as “horrific.”
Costello says he will seek major changes in the penalties that can be levied against companies that fail to comply with workers' compensation rules.
“These young men who are 100% disabled are not properly compensated, and it's because this company chose to let their workers' comp coverage lapse,” he says. “The penalties need to be in parity with the possibility of harm with employees.”
Friends said the boys were working when Gannon's leg was caught in an auger, and Zander tried to help him but slipped.
OSHA is investigating the incident.
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