Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Workplace accidents: Hot-wired truck caused driver's death

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires all employers to take responsibility for the health and safety of their employees. All fatal workplace accidents are investigated by the safety agency to determine whether deaths resulted from noncompliance with safety regulations. The conclusions of one such an investigation were recently reported.

The case involved the death of a 60-year-old truck driver who had almost 40 years of experience in operating large trucks. Three days after he started a new job hauling fire debris to a landfill in Sonoma County last December, he lost his life on the job. Reportedly, he was in the process of reattaching the trailer to the rig when a malfunction caused the accident that crushed him to death.

Cal/OSHA says compliance inspectors who investigated the incident determined that unauthorized modifications that were made to the truck allowed the vehicle to crush the driver when it rolled back unexpectedly. The agency's report indicates that the employer permitted the hot-wiring between the rear-starter and the battery. In the process, all safety devices that would prevent accidental starting were bypassed, allowing the unanticipated rolling back of the truck.

Further violations included the failure to inspect trucks before each shift and the lack of fire extinguishers in some vehicles. Such disregard of employee safety exacerbates the trauma suffered by the surviving family members who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents. However, some comfort might be provided by the support and guidance of an experienced California workers' compensation attorney who can assist with the navigation of death benefits claims for coverage of end-of-life expenses and lost wages to ease the unanticipated financial burden.

Source: pressdemocrat.com, "Sonoma County fire debris subcontractor cited in hauler's death", Kevin Fixler, April 18, 2018

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