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Road construction worker killed in Highway 99 accident in Merced

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that California ranks among the top four states in the country for fatal car accidents in or near road construction zones. Motor vehicle accidents near a work zone can place workers at risk for serious injury or death. In 2011, the CDC says that about 76 percent of all construction zone accidents involving a construction worker who was killed in a road project were traffic related accidents. But, that statistic merely means that about a quarter of the fatal occupational accidents were not related to a car accident at the construction site.

The construction industry is commonly referred to as the most dangerous, or at least near the top of the list for the risk of injury among all industries in the country. Construction sites often have heavy machinery, the potential for a variety of contractors or subcontractors on site from different entities and unstable materials that can cause serious injury should a workplace accident erupt.

State workplace safety officials say that a 43-year-old construction worker was killed in a worksite accident in Merced County on July 30. The construction worker was caught between heavy equipment and concrete at a construction site on Highway 99 when the accident occurred around 1:30 in the afternoon. Few other details have been reported about the specific nature of the accident as the investigation continues.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has opened an investigation into the fatal worksite accident. Generally, the safety agency investigates industrial accidents, especially when a fatality is reported. Cal-OSHA generally has six months to complete its investigations. Potential code violations are often a focus of a Cal-OSHA probe, as well as any other potential safety issues.

The construction worker was employed by a long-standing family-owned business that says is committed to workplace safety. The company says it is cooperating fully with the state investigation.

Workers’ compensation laws are a unique construct of the law. Injured workers, or the families of workers killed in a work-related accident may be entitled to benefits even in the absence of negligence. But workers’ compensation laws apply between a worker and the worker’s employer.

If negligence of a third-party actor is involved at an accident at a construction site, negligence may be an issue for a third-party claim outside of the workers’ compensation system.

Source: Merced Sun-Star, “Highway worker killed in Merced County ID'd as Lodi man,” Aug. 3, 2013

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