Every California employer is required to provide a safe work environment. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently ruled that a company known for its charity work failed to provide proper training to its employees. In fact, Cal/OSHA accuses a Goodwill location here in the state of serious and willful violations in the aftermath of fatal workplace injuries suffered by one of its workers.
On Sept. 30, 2016, the 26-year-old dock worker was helping make sure that a trash compactor and a heavy metal bin were properly aligned. The man's head was crushed when a truck driver released the cable holding the bin. The incident was tragic, but might not be the worst part of the story. A witness to the accident previously warned his superiors about certain dangers and even put his concerns in writing.
The Sacramento Goodwill location failed to heed the written warnings, which means that the death was preventable. In fact, Cal/OSHA found that none of the dock employees received the required safety training for the compactors. Goodwill shot back by saying that the employee making the allegations is a disgruntled employee who the company felt was responsible for the accident.
Despite the differences of opinion between Cal/OSHA and Goodwill, a family lost a loved one to grisly workplace injuries. It turns out that the man left behind a 7-year-old son. Death benefits from the California workers' compensation system could help with the victim's funeral and burial, along with the loss of his income. However, if the evidence suggests that gross negligence caused or contributed to his death, a wrongful death claim against Goodwill might lead to the recovery of additional damages. An attorney could be invaluable in making these choices.
Source: sacbee.com, "Goodwill fined more than $100K after worker crushed to death", Marjie Lundstrom, April 8, 2017