Alabama company accused of flouting safety rules after worker pulled into machinery, killed

Published 9:02 pm Monday, August 15, 2022

An Alabama company has been charged with willfully violating federal safety rules in the death of a worker who was pulled into a machine and fatally injured, authorities said Monday.

ABC Polymer Industries, which has a plant in the Birmingham suburb of Helena, was accused of two misdemeanor counts in the 2017 death of Catalina Estillado, court records showed.

The company makes flat plastic sheets on an assembly line that pulls material through multiple sets of large, spinning rollers, according to a statement by prosecutors.

ABC Polymer typically operated the machine without a required safety guard being engaged, the statement said, and Estillado was pulled into the spinning rollers and killed after being assigned to use a hand tool to cut away tangles.

The protections were required by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, prosecutors alleged, but the company failed to use them despite knowing workers had been injured multiple times before.

The misdemeanor offense is the only federal criminal charge involving such workplace safety violations, prosecutors said.

An attorney for ABC Polymer Industries on Monday did not immediately return an email to The Associated Press seeking comment on the charges, which could result in a fine of as much as $500,000.

Ruling after a nonjury trial, a Shelby County judge in June awarded $3 million to Estillado’s husband, Crescendio Pablo, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit after she was killed. The company has said it would appeal the verdict to the Alabama Supreme Court.