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Unmaintained equipment causes fatal workplace injuries

Just like employers in other states, those in California are bound by federal labor laws to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of all their workers. Many workplace accidents result from the failure of employers to have proper maintenance schedules for motorized and mechanical equipment. If faulty machinery is not identified and repaired, malfunctions can cause severe workplace injuries and, in some cases, even fatalities.

Upon completion of an OSHA investigation into the June death of a worker at a petrochemical facility in another state, the agency reported that employer negligence caused the fatality. An accident report indicates that the worker was remotely operating a crane while he was busy with loading and unloading materials. The movements of the massive crane became uncontrollable when the remote control failed.

This apparently caused the worker to suffer fatal injuries when the crane pinned him. OSHA investigators determined that allowing the crane operator to operate the defective machine constituted a willful violation. Other citations included the company's failure to conduct regular inspections and repair electrical hazards. Furthermore, drowning hazards were also identified and were included in the citations that were issued.

An OSHA area director commented that such employer negligence in allowing the ongoing operation of defective equipment is unacceptable. Regardless of who was at fault when a worker dies from suffering fatal workplace injuries, the surviving dependents may pursue death benefits claims through the California workers' compensation insurance system. This program typically provides compensation to cover end-of-life expenses along with a portion of lost income to assist the dependents with meeting financial obligations.

Source: workerscompensation.com, "Defective Crane at Texas Work Site Resulted in Worker Death", Dec. 22, 2015

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