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Citations follow workplace accidents that caused death and injury

Regardless of the industries where California workers are employed, workplace accidents can cause severe and often life-altering injuries. In addition to the time that injured workers have to spend away from work, there may be ongoing medical costs. The financial implications can be devastating. Many workplace accidents could be avoided when employers fully comply with the safety regulations that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes.

Investigations by Cal/OSHA into two accidents that occurred in July of last year were recently completed and resulted in citations and penalties for both companies after the two employers were both found to have violated safety regulations. One accident involved workers who were erecting metal scaffolds, and one worker was at the top of the scaffold when he inadvertently touched overhead power cables. When another worker at ground level noticed that his coworker on the top level of the scaffold seemed to be unconscious, he climbed to the top of the scaffold to provide assistance. He was knocked off the scaffold when he also touched the 12,000 volt electrical lines. The first worker lost his life in this incident, and the second worker spent two weeks in a hospital to recover from severe injuries.

In the second accident, a worker was killed when the boom lift that elevated him to paint the railings of a balcony made contact with transmission lines carrying 66,000 volts and caused the worker's death by electrocution. Safety regulations prescribe a clearance of 11 feet from power lines. In both cases, OSHA found that the employers failed to provide proper safety training and failed to identify the hazard of the power lines in close proximity to working areas.

Workers in California who have suffered injuries in workplace accidents typically cannot file civil claims against their employers except in some cases of gross negligence. They may, however, pursue benefits through the workers' compensation system without having to prove fault. Similarly, the loved ones of workers who lost their lives in on-the-job accidents may pursue claims for workers' compensation death benefits. The insurance fund will typically pay benefits to cover medical and funeral expenses, along with compensation for lost income.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Cal/OSHA cites 2 companies following electrocution fatalities", Jan. 22, 2015

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