CAUTIONARY TALES EPISODE 19 « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Don’t Skimp on Workplace Safety Measures

Once again, Cal/OSHA has cited an employer for the death of an employee resulting from ignored safety measures.

In March 2018, a GreenWaste Recovery, Inc. garbage collection worker was driving on the right side of a waste collection truck in San Jose. While making a turn, he fell out of the truck, which then ran him over. Cal/OSHA determined that the necessary safety chain was inoperable because of a missing part.

Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum reminds employers: “To prevent serious and fatal injuries, employers must maintain occupant restraints in working order and ensure the restraints are used by workers.” Specifically related to the trash collection industry, “Collection vehicles with the option to operate the truck from the right-hand side must be equipped with an occupant restraint system such as a door, locking or latching bar, safety chain or strap.”

The agency ruled the employee’s death an avoidable tragedy. GreenWaste Recovery has to pay $46,270 in citations for its safety laxity and will likely face a wrongful death claim. The Cal/OSHA imposed citations include two serious accident-related citations for not ensuring working safety equipment and failing to identify workers’ unsafe practice of not using restraints, and two general ones for failure to maintain required safety equipment.

Cal/OSHA has done at least 186 inspections of waste hauling companies in the last three years, and sadly, they include the death of another trash collection worker killed when he was pinned by his truck against a wall in La Jolla in 2017.

The concern for human life and avoidance of injuries should of course compel companies to do everything necessary to keep their workers safe. Avoiding costly citations is another incentive to do so.  Having a proper Illness and Injury Prevention Program, doing necessary training, and ensuring that equipment is working and employees are using it are key measures to have in place.

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For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin

October 4, 2018