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Workplace accidents: Harvester catches vineyard worker's clothes

The fact that employee fatalities are so rare in the California wine country might bring about complacency in employers and workers. However, workplace accidents do occur, and it appears the recent death of a worker at a vineyard in Napa is the first since another fatal incident last spring. In that accident, a Fairfield man became trapped underneath a tractor in a vineyard in Sonoma Valley when he was crushed while cleaning an implement on the machine.

According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the most recent incident occurred on a Monday afternoon. Reportedly, a worker who was working close to a grape harvesting machine was pulled into the machine. A spokesperson for the sheriff's office says the man's clothing was caught in the harvester's moving parts. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Cal/OSHA records show no prior safety incidents at this vineyard. The safety agency has launched an investigation during which inspectors will likely determine whether a safety violation caused this man's death. Employers are responsible for the safety and health of employees, and this includes comprehensive safety training during which time workers must learn about the hazards of clothing getting caught in machines. Proper supervision and monitoring of work clothes of employees could prevent tragedies such as this one.

California families who lost loved ones in fatal workplace accidents might be entitled to survivors' benefits obtainable through the state-regulated workers' compensation system. An experienced workers' comp attorney can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the claims process. Benefits typically cover end-of-life expenses and a financial package to make up for lost wages.

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