Louisville cement company agrees to $200,125 fine in 2014 workpl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville cement company agrees to $200,125 fine in 2014 workplace death

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kosmos Cement Co. pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge of violating workplace safety standards and will pay $200,125 in penalties in the 2014 death of a worker in Louisville.

Kosmos Cement, which does business as Cemex, also agreed to pay additional fines of $200,000 if it doesn’t meet four elevator safety requirements in the next three years. The terms of the plea agreement were detailed at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Colin H. Lindsay in Louisville.

Federal prosecutors alleged that the company “willfully” broke safety rules and failed to fix an elevator at its Dixie Highway cement factory. Contract employee Felipe Mata Vizcaya fell to his death at the factory in early 2014 after opening an elevator door when the elevator wasn’t present.

“This is one of the worst cases of negligence on the part of a company,” U.S. Attorney John Kuhn said in a statement after the hearing. “Improper maintenance resulted in an employee’s death. This agreement will ensure the proper maintenance of the cement facility and safety for the employees..."

A lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in court that the government could have proven at trial that a service contractor noted mechanical failures in the elevator and proposed to renovate it several times.

Michael Egan, Cemex’s executive vice president and general counsel, entered the guilty plea for the company, which faced a maximum fine of $500,125.

In order to avoid more fines, Kosmos Cement promised that all elevators at its Dixie Highway facility will be designed, operated and tested to meet national safety standards, and upgrade older elevators. The company also agreed that all elevators have switches that prevent them from opening unless an elevator is waiting.

Kosmos Cement also will create a written maintenance plan and let the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction conduct on-site inspections. The plea deal doesn’t prevent the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, which oversees the facility, from doing its own reviews.

Egan declined to comment after the hearing on the amount of any payment to Vizcaya’s family.

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