Workers' compensation available for victims of work accidents

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently reported that it had completed the investigation into the tragic accident that killed one person and caused serious injuries to another during the cleaning up after the February mudslide in Santa Cruz County. Fortunately, the injured victim and the family of the deceased worker did not have to wait for the conclusion of the investigation before claiming workers' compensation benefits. They were entitled to pursue financial assistance immediately after the workplace accident.

Cal/OSHA reported that all three companies that were involved in the project were found guilty of violating safety regulations. Caltrans was cited for neglecting to do job site safety inspections. The company whose employee operated the vehicle that struck the two workers was cited for not managing the operations in a manner that would have ensured that the operators of earth-moving equipment and dump trucks were aware of other workers in the area.

The employer of the two men received citations for not providing adequate safety training and failure to conduct the necessary inspections of the site. All three companies reported that they would be appealing the penalties. One of their stated objections says that a Cal/OSHA inspector failed in his or her task during inspections of the site.

Regardless of the outcome of any investigations or appeals, the loss of a loved one in a workplace accident cannot be changed, nor can serious injuries be undone. Any victims of workplace accidents, or the surviving family members of employees killed in fatal on-the-job incidents, can pursue financial relief through the California workers' compensation insurance program. Benefits typically include compensation to cover medical expenses, end-of-life costs and wage-replacement packages to cover a percentage of lost income.

Source:, "Cal/OSHA Cites Two Companies, Caltrans in Deadly Accident After Santa Cruz County Mudslide", Ted Goldberg, Sept. 5, 2017

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