Earlier this year, a tragic industrial accident took the life of a temporary worker in Bay Point, California. The 26-year-old was working in an adhesive plant when he got caught up in a rotating mixer and suffered serious injuries and later died.
Cal/OSHA investigated the accident and determined that the Henkel Corporation, a multinational company based in Germany, failed to provide adequate workplace protections and willfully ignored hazards that led to the worker’s death. The accident was deemed “completely preventable” by Cal/OSHA.
After a fatal industrial accident, it is common for state or federal regulators to issue citations and fine the company that violated established safety standards, but typically the penalties handed down are a mere slap on the wrist. In this case, Henkel Corporation was fined $200,825.
Cal/OSHA said the company was guilty of six serious violations. Of those, two were deemed willful. In particular, Henkel failed to set up proper safety guards for the mixing machine that fatally injured the worker. The company was aware of the hazard but did nothing to correct it.
Henkel also failed to make sure that employees’ sleeves were tightly fitted so they wouldn’t get wound up in machinery. Such precautions are basic workplace standards that all such industrial environments are obliged to maintain.
There was no word as to whether the deceased worker’s family was pursuing a lawsuit against the company. California law also provides that surviving family members can pursue death benefits through the workers’ compensation system. Such benefits can help families cover burial expenses, as well as help support any dependents now grieving after a work-related death.
Source: yubanet.com, “Cal/OSHA Cites Henkel over $200,000 Following Death of Temporary Worker,” Sept. 11, 2013