There will always be some level of risk in every task that is undertaken. However, many employers can take simple precautions to greatly reduce the risk of workplace injuries for their employees. A recent investigation conducted by California’s division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration claims that a one company could have prevented, or at least reduced, the harm one of its employees suffered in a recent accident. In 2012, a 34-year-old woman was an employee at Dan Avila and Sons. She was working on a sweet potato harvester. According to reports, the woman’s leg became pinned between a piece of the machinery and a pole as the driver attempted a turn. As a result, several bones in her foot were crushed. Although she was airlifted to the hospital, part of her leg required amputation.
In the investigation that followed, OSHA alleges that Dan Avila and Sons had violated several health and safety standards. Its report alleges, for example, there was no way to signal the driver of the harvester to stop in the event of an emergency. Witnesses to the accident reportedly had to throw clumps of dirt at the driver to get his attention. The organization has suggested almost $40,000 in fines against the company as a result of the accident. According to reports, Avila plans to contest the fines.
While the investigation and allegations against the company will hopefully prevent similar incidences, this woman’s severe workplace injuries have likely significantly impacted her life. California state laws, however, require employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage in the event of such an incident. Such coverage will likely compensate the woman for her medical bills, including a prosthesis and physical therapy, as well as lost wages as she recovers. While she is entitled to this compensation, others have found it helpful to seek additional assistance obtaining full and efficient compensation.
Source: The Modesto Bee, Turlock farmer to appeal OSHA fines over worker’s lost leg, Ken Carlson, Sept. 26, 2013