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California fire creates concern about construction site safety

The charred 16,000 acres in San Bernardino left by the recent brush fire serves as yet another reminder of the threat such blazes pose to Californians every year as the weather turns hot. But as the flames were extinguished, the investigation into the source of the fire began to take precedence. Ultimately, investigators attributed the incident to a construction site accident that occurred when a backhoe caught fire at 4S Ranch.

While this conclusion answered the question of what caused that fire, it raised general questions about the circumstances that can lead to such horrible events. Specifically, what sorts of fire prevention plans are employed at construction sites?

A San Diego TV news team conducted an investigation into the use of machinery during times when fire conditions are present. What they found was somewhat disconcerting. First, the team was told by a California Occupational Safety and Health Administration representative that, in regard to construction sites, the agency was not charged with the regulation of fire safety rules.

The team researched Cal/OSHA's regulations and discovered that it is an employer's responsibility to enact and enforce a program of fire prevention. Employers must also keep properly maintained fire extinguishers on site and train employees on how to use them.

Construction workers live under constant threat of serious injuries due to falling, being struck by objects or even being electrocuted. Unfortunately, construction site fires appear to be much lower on the list of concerns.

Just because injuries caused by fire may not happen with the frequency of other types of injuries, there is no reason for an employer to not take every measure to ensure worker safety. A sudden burst of flame shooting out of a piece of machinery could cause severely debilitating and disfiguring burn injuries, leaving a worker to face a lifetime of difficulties.

If you are ever injured by fire while on a construction job in California, you should look into contacting a lawyer who understands all of the relevant responsibilities held by employers in regard to fire safety. Such a lawyer may have the capacity to carry out an investigation of your accident which could provide you with the grounds for claiming the compensation you need.

Source: 10news.com, "Questions asked about construction site safety after Bernardo Fire," Melissa Mecija, May 21, 2014

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