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California workplace accident points to poor training

California workers know that there is no substitute for experience. This is an extremely significant concept when applied to jobs having an element of physical danger. One of management's most important responsibilities is to assess workers’ ability to perform tasks so as to avoid putting them in situations they may not be prepared to handle.

Instructing inexperienced workers to perform potentially dangerous tasks without requisite training and guidance increases the risk of workplace accidents which can cause serious or even fatal injuries.

A tragic example of what can happen when an ill-prepared worker takes on a job fraught with hazards occurred in California last October. The incident involved two rail workers who were conducting maintenance and training when they were struck and killed by a fast moving commuter train. According to The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the incident can be attributed to the train operator's lack of experience and instruction.

Apparently, a rail line manager should have been overseeing the operator. However, Cal/OSHA reports that while the manager should have been posted with the operator in the cab, he was instead in the passenger area of the train when the accident took place. Safety inspectors determined that at that time either the supervisor or the operator should have been performing lookout duties, but neither was. As a result, the two men killed were given no warning of the train's approach.

This incident is a very sad reminder of the importance of experience, training and supervision on an industrial job site. Unqualified workers can do great harm to themselves and others. If you are injured on the job due to actions of an inexperienced co-worker, or if you yourself were injured due to a lack of proper instruction, you are entitled to receive workers' compensation.

When you do incur an injury at work, contacting an attorney who knows California workers' compensation laws may help you better understand all of the benefits you should be granted. Also, your attorney can go to bat for you should your employer try to find reason to deny or delay payment of what is rightfully yours.

Source: ABC News, “California Rail Line Fined for Worker Deaths,” Sudhin Thanawala, April 17, 2014

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