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Inquiry of LAX worker's death after accident on the job complete

Following up on our blog post on March 3 about the death of a worker at Los Angeles International Airport (Baggage handler death at LA airport under investigation), the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has completed its investigation and fined an aviation services provider more than $77,000. It was determined that the company had violated several safety regulations that could have contributed to the accident on the job that resulted in the baggage handler’s death. This investigation may have provided some answers to the victim's family, but they could be facing financial difficulties in addition to emotional grief.

The accident was initially reported as a heart attack; however, the investigation found that the man was ejected from the vehicle after losing control and striking a curb. The rear tire of the baggage truck apparently went over the man’s head, pinning his head beneath the wheel. According to OSHA’s safety regulations, such vehicles should have restraint systems to avoid an operator being ejected, and the safety belt of the tug in question was missing a piece.

OSHA reported that the company’s written safety regulations require restraints to be used whenever the vehicle is outside the aircraft parking areas and the terminal gates. Inspectors reported observing many baggage tug operators driving without any restraints during the investigation. It was determined that the company’s procedures of inspection and monitoring were inadequate. The company reported that they disagree with the findings of the investigation, and intend to appeal the OSHA citations in an attempt to demonstrate their pledge to safety at the workplace.

Workers in the airline industry have the right to be protected against potential workplace injuries. California residents who have lost loved ones after an accident on the job may find comfort knowing that the object of the workers’ compensation insurance fund is to provide financial aid to the surviving families. Claims for benefits usually cover end-of-life expenses, along with a compensation package for the surviving spouse.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Cal/OSHA fines aviation company in death of LAX baggage worker", Dan Weikel, Aug. 20, 2014

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Cal/OSHA fines aviation company in death of LAX baggage worker", Dan Weikel, Aug. 20, 2014

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