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Cal-OSHA investigating fatal industrial mixer accident

Employers must always be diligent when it comes to employee safety. This means making certain that the necessary policies/procedures are in place, conducting regular inspections and providing the necessary safety equipment. Any failure to take these steps can have severe and lasting consequences, including fines, increased workers' compensation insurance premiums and possibly an employee serious and willful misconduct lawsuit.

It appears that a manufacturing company in Contra Costa, California, may soon be facing some of these penalties following a tragic industrial accident last month that left one employee dead and authorities with unanswered questions.

Back on April 15, emergency officials were summoned to the Henkel Corporation in Bay Point shortly after 11 a.m. for a situation involving a worker injured by industrial machinery.

Upon their arrival, responders found 26-year-old David E. suffering from major injuries and in need of immediate transport. According to sources, his legs were crushed and amputated after he accidentally fell into the industrial mixer he was operating.

David E. was transported to a nearby hospital, where doctors were ultimately unable to save his life.

The incident is now under investigation by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal-OSHA), which is examining both the Henkel Corporation and HR Comp LLC, the Tennessee-based staffing company that originally hired David E to perform temporary work for Henkel.

As part of its investigation, Cal/-OSHA will conduct a comprehensive onsite inspection complete with witness interviews.

"We will conduct a thorough review of any machinery involved and safety documentation of training and to see if the machine was being operated properly," said an agency spokesperson. "If they find a violation, the employers can be cited and penalties will be issued on a variety of factors including the nature of the violation itself."

It should be noted that if the investigation, which is expected to take up to six months, uncovers a serious violation, Cal-OSHA could level a maximum fine of $25,000. However, if it uncovers evidence of a willful violation, it could level a maximum fine of $75,000.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...


The Contra Cost Times, "Antioch man dies in fatal industrial machine incident in Bay Point," Natalie Neysa Alund, April 16, 2013

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