Workers' compensation available for family of crushed worker

Last October, a Northern California family lost a loved one in a preventable workplace accident. Although workers' compensation benefits can ease the financial consequences of such a tragedy, it can never make up for the family's loss. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says both the farm labor contractor who placed the worker and the walnut shelling plant owner failed to comply with safety standards.

Reportedly, the fatality occurred in an area where forklift operators deposit loads of walnuts into bins, which are then tipped into a hopper by an 800-pound bin dumper. The worker was tasked with cleaning the surrounding area when the massive bin dumper crushed him. It appears he was unaware of the fact that the dumper is automatically lowered to ground level after dumping a load.

Cal/OSHA inspectors determined that the labor contractor failed to provide the necessary safety training before placing the worker in dangerous surroundings. Furthermore, investigators say neither the labor agent nor the walnut processing plant owner assessed the workplace for potential safety hazards. Citations were issued for the failure to equip the dumper with lockout/tagout devices, and for not providing the worker with an extension tool, which could have prevented this tragedy.

California families who lose loved ones in work-related accidents can utilize the skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. Legal counsel can assist with the legal and administrative steps of the benefits claims process. Survivor's benefits typically cover the costs of a funeral and burial along with a financial package to make up for lost wages and ease the day-to-day financial burdens.

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