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California company fined in fatal construction accident

A construction company has been fined following a tragic accident which took the life of a worker. The construction accident occurred in January at the site where a Milpitas home was being built. The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health cited the company with 14 different citations for safety violations totaling $165,175 in fines after the death of a carpenter on the job site.

The construction worker was killed when he was buried alive after the soil near a large hole gave way. The construction company had been cited by the city of Milpitas just days before the accident and ordered to stop work due to unstable ground. Yet, the company continued to work, and the employee was killed. The man was unable to be saved, and it took several days to recover his body.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration completed its review of the accident and issued the fines. It has also reported the company to the Contractors State License Board which has suspended the general contractor's license. It was found that the construction company failed to provide workers' compensation insurance to employees as is required by law. The California's OSHA Bureau of Investigations and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is continuing investigations into the incident.

In this tragic case the California worker's death may have been prevented if the company had heeded the warning and stopped work when told to do so. California's OSHA investigators found that the company had failed to inspect the excavation site daily and did not inform workers of the hazards and safety precautions necessary. The family of the man who was killed is certainly interested in the findings of the investigation into this disastrous construction accident as they explore their options under state law as a result of what appears to have been a senseless death.

Source: NBC Bay Area, "State Fines Fremont Construction Firm in Milpitas Death," Lisa Fernandez, June 13, 2012

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