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OSHA cites company for fatal California construction accident

Many fatal workplace accidents are preventable. Such was also the finding of a recent California Occupational and Health Administration investigation into a fatal construction accident that claimed the life of a worker in April. Cal/OSHA issued three citations to the construction company, along with a fine of $38,250 for the safety violations. 

The accident occurred in the vicinity of Highway 101 where workers were replacing a water pipe. The 8,000-pound steel pipe -- 40-feet long and coated with concrete -- apparently had to be transported over rough terrain. A forklift was used to carry the pipe, but OSHA found that the employer failed to ensure that the pipe was chained to the forklift platform. A 28-year-old worker was apparently standing  on a slope, directing the forklift operator to the spot at which the pipe had to be placed.

As the unsecured pipe was lowered, it slipped off the forklift platform, and because no barriers were in place to block the massive pipe, it rolled down the incline. The worker was apparently unable to avoid it, and the heavy steel pipe rolled over him, crushing him to death. Cal/OSHA found the fatal accident could have been avoided had the employer recognized the potential danger of transporting and placing the pipe on the slanting terrain. Furthermore, the failure to secure the pipe to the forklift and neglecting to place chocks to prevent it from rolling were safety violations that caused the death of the worker.

The family of this young man who lost his life in a construction accident is entitled to pursue financial relief to assist with the high costs of a funeral and burial and other financial losses. By filing a claim with the California workers' compensation insurance fund, end-of-life expenses may be recovered. Also, covered dependents may receive a financial package with regard to lost wages. The level of such compensation is typically based on the deceased worker's latest income level.

Source: pressdemocrat.com, "Construction company fined for Petaluma accident that killed worker", Angela Hart, July 15, 2015

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