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Workplace accidents often caused by willful safety violations

Each occupation has its own hazards; however, employees don't always recognize dangerous situations when they are ordered to perform specific duties. It is the responsibility of California employers to assess the potential hazards of the work site prior to allowing work activities on it. Workers should also be fully informed about imminent dangers and emergency strategies to avoid workplace accidents.

When a company owner knowingly orders workers onto unsafe work sites and exposes workers to dangerous situations, they may be cited for willful safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Such citations were recently issued to a California film company after one crew member lost her life and eight others were injured while they were working in unsafe conditions in another state. The accident occurred in February while filming took place on a railroad track.

It is alleged that the film company obtained permission for filming on the property adjacent to the railroad, but it failed to contact the railroad company for permission to work on the tracks. The film crew was apparently on top of a railroad trestle that was positioned on the tracks when an approaching train crashed into them. Although the workers tried to outrun the train and remove all items from the tracks, their efforts were futile.

California employees who have suffered injuries on the job, or surviving families of workers who lost their lives in workplace accidents, may be overwhelmed or intimidated by the claiming procedures of the workers' compensation insurance fund. To guide them through the series of administrative and judicial hearings that commonly comprise such claims, many claimants retain the services of an experienced legal professional. The benefits for injured workers usually include compensation for medical expenses and lost wages based upon the worker's last salary, and the surviving family of deceased workers may receive compensation to cover end-of-life expenses, along with some form of financial aid for the dependents.

Source: businessmanagementdaily.com, "On-set death prompts OSHA cites against film company", Nov. 5, 2014

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