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Judge says unsafe factory to blame for employee's injuries

A California almond factory has been blamed for the serious injuries of one of its employees. According to an administrative law judge, the company failed to implement safe operating procedures and guidelines, which directly resulted in its worker's injuries.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board judge decided that the factory, Blue Diamond Growers, should be liable for damages relating to the injurious employee accident. The decision on the matter reads that the employer did not follow safety rules in the California Code. The judge further upheld a previous OSHA order to fine the company $25,000 for its violations.

The worker was hurt because another employee was operating a forklift with a load that prevented him from seeing in front of him. The forklift driver then struck the employee by accident. The driver did not realize he struck his coworker until after he saw the man under the forklift.

After being blamed for the accident and injuries, the company appealed the OSHA ruling by trying to argue that the California Code was vague and could be subjected to varying interpretations. However, the appeals board rejected this defense, saying that California Code Section 3650 offered clear guidelines.

In cases where it is determined that a company did not follow the law in terms of safety procedure, and was therefore negligent and at fault for a worker's injury, the injured worker may be able to pursue a personal injury claim to seek money to pay for damages. This claim, however, would be in addition to the employee's workers' compensation claim. Regardless of fault or liability, most injured workers in California will be protected under their companies' workers' compensation insurance plans.

Source: Northern California Record, "Administrative law judge blames unsafe factory practice for worker’s injuries," Michelle de Leon, Nov. 03, 2016

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