In addition to over $36,000 in fines for safety violations, one of California's largest recycling plants now faces criminal charges. The troubled company, already in the midst of layoffs and plant closures due to financial issues, may be fined an additional $1.5 million if found guilty of two felony charges. These charges were brought because of the company's poor record in preventing workplace accidents.
One such accident resulted in the death of an employee two years ago. The 61-year-old man arrived at the recycling center to fill in for a sick co-worker. As the man crossed the parking lot to his truck, he passed behind a front-end loader being operated by another worker. Just as the operator of the front-end loader reversed his machine, the man suddenly turned around and doubled back behind the loader. The 17-ton earth mover struck the man and ran over him, killing him.
The criminal charges allege that the equipment did not have adequate warning devices to alert the man that the machine was backing up. Additionally, the company is charged with failing to provide injury or illness prevention programs to train employees regarding safety measures designed to avoid such accidents. These allegations are described as willful violations of safety protocol.
A criminal charge against the company is not necessary for the family of the victim to pursue their own legal action. They may consider consulting an attorney to file a claim for workers' compensation death benefits. In view of the egregious nature of these accusations, it may also be possible to pursue a claim directly against the recycling plant because of its failure to prevent workplace accidents like the one that killed their loved one. People in California who are injured or who lose loved ones on the job have every right to seek compensation through the workers' compensation system, a third-party claim or -- in cases of gross negligence -- a claim against the employer.
Source: pe.com, "Recycling company charged in 2013 death of employee", John M. Blodgett, July 29, 2016