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State finds company at fault in California worker's death


Officials from California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health Department have now decided that an earlier agency decision to absolve an elevator company of negligence in the death of a worker last June was wrong and have now fined the company for three safety violations related to the case.

The accident at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, which will become the new home of the San Francisco 49ers football team, took the life of a 63-year-old worker when he was suddenly struck by a falling elevator counterweight. In October, OSHA representatives cleared Schindler Elevator Corporation of any negligence.

The case was reopened and the initial decision was overturned after an OSHA supervisor questioned the initial report. Now Schindler has been charged with three serious violations totaling $54,000 in fines. The company had 15 days to pay up or refute the citations. The company has already said it will contest the charges.

This company has been cited for and paid fines for previous safety violations: $165,000 and $25,000 for accidents in California in 2008 and 2011. The company has also encountered safety issues with its elevators in other parts of the country.

Ironically, the case was reopened just a few days after another construction accident took the life of a 61-year-old truck driver at the stadium site when rebar being unloaded from the truck he was driving fell on him.

As this case shows, construction areas are dangerous. Nonetheless, risks to workers can be minimized if employers take all necessary precautions and safety measures. Whether from construction accidents or other workplace accidents, any California worker can file a workers' compensation claim to help with medical expenses and lost wages. Consultation with a personal injury lawyer can also be beneficial in the event that a worker's claim is denied.

Source: NBC Bay Area, "State Finds 'Serious Violations' at Schindler Elevator after Levi's Stadium Death," Lisa Fernandez, December 11, 2013

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