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Workplace accidents: Rotating shaft kills bowling alley worker

Receiving that dreaded call about a loved one's death in a workplace accident is naturally a traumatic experience, but learning that the death could have been prevented must be devastating. Sadly, this is not uncommon, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regularly reports on citations issued to employers in California and elsewhere who caused workplace accidents by disregarding the most basic safety regulations. One of the most ignored regulations involves the safeguarding of moving machine parts and the failure to have procedures in place to deactivate and lock machines while maintenance is done.

OSHA recently completed an investigation into a March workplace accident at a bowling alley in another state. The tragedy occurred when the employers of a 29-year-old worker sent him into a crawling space among turning shafts to repair a defective pinsetter. The collar of the worker's shirt reportedly got caught in the rotating shaft, and the rotation continued to wind up the collar until the man was strangled by his own shirt.

OSHA inspectors determined that the company committed serious safety violations in its failure to guard the dangerous rotating shafts. Furthermore, citations were issued for the failure to shutdown the power to the machine when the worker was sent to do the repair work. The agency contended that the bowling company owners were aware of the potentially deadly threat of the situation.

California families who have had to deal with such unexpected deaths of loved ones will naturally face several stumbling blocks. In additional to the emotional trauma, the financial implications can be vast. Fortunately, the financial problems may be eased with the help of the workers' compensation insurance fund that offers death benefits to the covered dependents of workers who died in workplace accidents. End-of-life expenses will be covered, and a financial package that is based on the deceased worker's wage level will assist with day-to-day expenses.

Source: corporatecrimereporter.com, "Bowling Center Mechanic's Strangulation Death a Preventable Workplace Tragedy", Sept. 15, 2015

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