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Removing safety guards can cause fatal workplace accidents

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently cited a ceramics manufacturer and proposed penalties exceeding $250,000. Investigators concluded that the employer committed willful violations that led to the death of a worker. The safety agency says that full compliance with prescribed standards can prevent workplace accidents and save lives.

The ceramics industry uses a pug mill machine in the clay manufacturing process. It is an industrial mixer that is typically fitted with safety guards to prevent workers from making contact with the rotating parts of the machine. After a worker lost his life when he was caught and pulled into the mixing blades of the pug mill last September, Cal/OSHA investigators determined that the safety guards of all four pug mills on-site had been removed.

Workers were exposed to the easily accessible blades of the mixers. The report indicates that the deceased worker was not sufficiently trained to operate the pug mill, and he was pulled into the mixer when he tried to resolve a problem with a blockage that prevented the clay from moving through the extruder. According to a Cal/OSHA chief, it is crucial to leave safety guards in place on pug mills because the rotating blades can cause amputations or fatal injuries upon contact by a worker.

Although no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, financial assistance can ease the unanticipated financial burden. The surviving family members of victims of workplace accidents in California can obtain survivors' benefits from the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program. An experienced attorney can help the families to obtain death benefits that typically cover the expenses related to the end-of-life arrangements along with wage replacement.

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