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Tempel Grain Charged $1.6 Million For Youth's Death

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and U.S. Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division has fined Tempel Grain Elevators more than $1.6 million in connection with the death of a worker.

The 17-year-old worker, Cody Rigsby, was killed May 29 after being buried alive in a grain bin. The flow of grain had not been turned off when Rigsby and another worker entered the bin.

In a written statement, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis wrote that Tempel Grain

was well aware of the hazards and knowingly put its young workers in harm's way. From safety to wage and hour issues, the company created a hazardous and illegal working environment for its workers.

According to OHS Online, the $1.6 million fine is based on 22 alleged willful and 13 serious citations. A separate investigation also disclosed 77 child labor violations.

These include employing underage workers, allowing teenage employees to work hours prohibited by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and allowing them to work in jobs prohibited by the act and by the department's hazardous occupations orders. The fines for these alleged violations total $64,487. The investigation also found 59 workers were due a total of $56,285 in back wages for minimum wage and overtime violations of the act.

Speaking to the Denver Post, Kelly Spitzer, the vice-president and principal owner of Tempel Grain,

noted that Tempel Grain operates 14 rural grain elevators in southeast Colorado and has served ranchers and farmers in the area for more than nine years. She said the company remains "committed to the safety and health of its employees."

Tempel Grain has 15 days to respond to OSHA's findings