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Investigation Cites “Serious Problems” With California Workplace Safety Enforcement

A recent Department of Labor report found workplace safety enforcement in California in need of serious change. According the Los Angles Times, an investigation into the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health revealed poor training of safety inspectors along with significant delays in responding to complaints. The investigation also revealed “relatively serious” problems, especially with the appeals board which “repeatedly reduced or dismissed penalties, even in situations where workers died or were seriously injured.”

Where workers are injured at work, they are eligible for Worker’s Compensation from their employer, regardless of fault. Additionally, injured workers may be able to bring third-party lawsuits in instances such as where a manufacturer provides a tool or equipment that causes injury, or another contractor creates an unreasonably dangerous workplace. Workers may be able to recover medical expenses, pain and suffering, and economic damages.

Where safety violations occur, Cal/OSHA is supposed to conduct an investigation, with the end result mandating work sites correct safety violations and pay fines. However, here the report highlighted several significant workplace accidents where Cal/OSHA failed to adequately investigate the safety violations and subsequently enforce penalties. For example, at Bimbo Bakeries, USA, nine employees lost parts of fingers or limbs as the result of baking machines lacking proper guards. Despite the safety violations, penalties were dismissed and the company not required to immediately remedy the problem.

In another case, a worker on the Golden Gate Bridge fell to his death because no scaffolds were in place. Cal/OSHA fined the contractor only $26,000, but when the administrative law judge noticed a small error in the name (the citations were issued to Shimmick Obayashi rather than Shimmick Construction Co. Inc/Obayashi Corp.) the case was dismissed.

Experienced workplace accident attorneys can help injured workers recover the compensation they are entitled to. Cal/OSHA must do a better job in enforcing penalties against companies to ensure the same accidents don’t happen again.

For more information, or if you have been injured in a work related accident, contact Frederick J. Sette,dedicated to helping those injured in California accidents obtain the compensation they deserve.