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OSHA finds policy violations contributed to deadly CA crane accident

OSHA recently determined that a fatal California crane accident occurred because the construction company failed to follow established safety protocols.

The California division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently concluded an investigation of a fatal crane accident that occurred in the state in May 2014. According to the Sacramento Bee, CAL-OSHA fined the construction company involved for multiple violations that directly contributed to the deaths of two workers. Many of the violations represented direct departures from safety protocols designed to prevent construction accidents.

A known risk

The accident occurred when two construction workers were lifted via crane on a platform to repair a cable that had broken on a second crane. The rigging came loose, and the platform and both workers fell 80 feet. Tragically, neither worker survived the fall.

CAL-OSHA determined that the construction company failed to take several steps that could have prevented this accident. Specifically, the company or the crane operator made the following errors:

  • Ignoring regulations that required periodic inspections of the crane
  • Skipping a trial run, which should have been conducted without any workers aboard the platform
  • Failing to ask a qualified person to inspect the rigging
  • Operating the crane without the assistance of a qualified person

This accident was especially unnecessary because fall injuries are a well-recognized risk in the construction industry. OSHA reports that in 2013, falls were the most common cause of death for construction workers, causing 36.9 percent of all fatalities that occurred in the industry.

Accident prevention

A summary of the workplace standards violations that OSHA cited most frequently between Oct. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2014, suggests many fall accidents occur because employers fail to observe established safety protocols. Issues with fall protection, scaffolding and ladders represented three of the seven most commonly issued citations.

OSHA states that construction employers are responsible for taking three steps to prevent fall injuries and deaths. Proper planning is necessary to identify risks and plan strategies for mitigating those risks. Appropriate equipment should be available to all workers laboring more than six feet above the ground. Additionally, training should prepare all employees to properly use equipment and recognize safety hazards.

Injury compensation

Construction workers in San Diego who are injured in the course of their jobs are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Under California workers' compensation law, an injured worker may receive compensation for medical care and wage loss resulting from temporary or permanent disablement. In the event of a fatal injury, the worker's surviving family members may be entitled to death benefits.

California uses a no-fault workers' compensation system, which means the fault of the employee or employer does not impact whether an injury is compensable. However, establishing the severity of the injury and securing adequate compensation can be challenging for workers. This is especially true in the case of serious or catastrophic injuries, which are not uncommon in construction.

Workers who have suffered serious injuries during falls or other construction-related accidents should protect their rights by consulting with a workers' compensation attorney.

Keywords: accident, workers' compensation, injury, job

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