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Goodwill fined over worker death, unsafe conditions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Sacramento Goodwill more than $100,000 after an employee's head was crushed between a trash compactor and a heavy metal bin in a tragic accident that was entirely preventable.

After a lengthy investigation by OSHA, several facts have come to light:

-- A total of six safety citations were issued. One was deemed "willful-serious." A serious violation is one where OSHA determines that the employer either knew or should have known that employees were in danger and still didn't take action to change the situation. A willful violation means the employer intentionally violated safety rules or exhibited a total lack of concern for the employees' safety.

-- OSHA's finding opens the situation up to criminal prosecution because an employee was killed. A criminal conviction can raise the company's fine up to $500,000.

-- OSHA noted that none of the employees using the heavy machinery were provided with training on how to handle the machines safely.

-- Goodwill left dangerous machinery that was in motion unattended and unguarded.

-- The company didn't give it employees any safety manuals or written instructions on how to handle the compactor or other collection equipment.

-- An individual within the company, unnamed by OSHA's report, tried to warn Goodwill's senior management about the very safety issues hat led to his fellow employee's tragic death. Management did nothing to correct the named issues.

One of the witnesses to the accident says that he was the unnamed employee. He began warning management of the problems he was seeing -- including employees putting themselves directly in harm's way -- months before the accident. He said he tried addressing the issue both verbally and in writing.

For his trouble, he's now been fired by Goodwill. Inexplicably, Goodwill accuses him of being the sole person responsible for his coworker's death. The former employee believes that he's being retaliated against for addressing the company's negligence and cooperating with the OSHA investigation.

Naturally, Goodwill is appealing the fines, so it may be some time before the final rulings are known.

If you lost a loved one due to an unsafe working environment or were seriously injured yourself, an attorney can provide assistance in pursuing the compensation you may need.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Goodwill fined more than $100K after worker’s gruesome death," Marjie Lundstrom, April 08, 2017

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