As mentioned previously on this blog, it is an employer’s duty to create a safe working environment for its employees. However, since it may not be possible to remove all hazards from a workplace, it also falls upon an employer to warn workers about dangers they are exposed to and give them training on how to minimize workplace injuries. When an employer is negligent in performing this duty, a catastrophic workplace accident may be the result.
According to the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a tree trimming company did not perform these actions, and, as a result, a 24-year-old worker died. According to Cal-OSHA, the company did not inform workers about the dangers of the job and it also did not take steps to prevent those dangers. It was also determined that parts of the equipment used by the victim were not guarded properly. Cal-OSHA also concluded that the company could not certify that it had properly trained the worker.
All of these factors contributed to the fatal workplace accident that killed the worker. An investigation conducted by Cal-OSHA found that a wood chipper caught and pulled the rope used to lower tree limbs from an aerial bucket. The company was fined more than $20,000 for the seven violations that were committed. Cal-OSHA also went on to point out that tree cutters are at an elevated risk of dying in a workplace accident, given that workers in that industry are 56 times more likely to die of a workplace injury than all other industries combined.
When a workplace accident takes place, OSHA investigates the incident and, if the employer had neglected its duties, the company will be fined. The company may also be given time to rectify its mistakes, to avoid further incidents.