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Construction company criminally liable for worker's death

The California Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued 14 citations to a construction firm that was recently found criminally liable for the death of one of the company's employees. The employee, a 39-year-old Hayward man, was killed in an accident at a home construction site in Milpitas on Jan. 28, 2012. Cal/OSHA is also seeking more than $168,000 in fines from the Fremont-based firm following the fatal accident.

On Aug. 11, authorities said that a grand jury in Santa Clara County indicted the construction firm for the worker's death. The grand jury also indicted the owner and chief executive of U.S.-Sino Investment Inc. as well as the company's project manager. The 52-year-old CEO is believed to be in China; both he and the 36-year-old project manager are being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Three days prior to the construction worker's death, officials in Milpitas issued a stop-work order to the company because of the construction site's substandard conditions and the fact that the company had failed to obtain an excavation permit. The district attorney said that the company had cut corners on safety and disregarded the safety of its employees, which resulted in the construction worker's death when a portion of a 13-foot retaining wall broke loose.

Victims of construction accidents can file for workers' compensation benefits in order to receive any reasonable medical care for their injuries as well as any lost income to which they are entitled. These benefits can be sought regardless of fault. If, however, an employer was found criminally liable for a worker's injury, that worker can choose to forgo workers' compensation benefits and instead file a civil lawsuit. This option also applies to a worker's immediate family members in the event of the worker's death.

Source: San Francisco Gate, "Indictments handed down in Milpitas worker death", Hentry K. Lee, August 12, 2014

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