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Street Cleaning Machine Accident Leaves Operator Dead; OSHA and State Police Reconstruction Team Investigating

In a July 5th work-related accident, a 58-year-old street sweeper from Penacook, New Hampshire, was killed in his street sweeping vehicle at an intersection in Norwood, Massachusetts. According to David Traub, spokesman from the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, the street cleaner, Patrick J. MacDonald, was killed after getting trapped in the street sweeping machinery. David Procopio, State Police spokesman, said that MacDonald appeared to have been doing repairs on the machine when he became entangled into the container that holds debri.

Norwood Fire Department spokesman George Morrice confirmed that paramedics who arrived at the scene pronounced MacDonald dead. The State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction team were called to the scene to investigate. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also investigating the accident to determine whether or not workplace safety standards were violated. OSHA inspections must be completed within 180 days, involve an onsite inspection, interviews, record reviews, and any required testing.

OSHA Spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said that if the administration did find that the accident occurred due to safety violations, then the company would be cited and likely fined. If a violation is cited as serious, the fine could be up to $7,000. OSHA issues a serious violation when death or serious physical harm could likely result from a hazard that the employer should have known about and failed to fix. If the violation is cited as a willful violation, the fine to the company could be up to $70,000. OSHA issues a willful violation, the most serious of violations, when the employer knows that a hazardous situation exists and intentionally makes no attempt to fix it. MacDonald was working for an Everett-based sweeping company called Bay State Sweeping.

Although this fatal accident is still under investigation, many questions arise from the circumstances of the accident as it could have occurred due to operational error or due to a hazard that the employer could have prevented, such as a lack of training. Another possibility is that the sweeping machine malfunctioned, entitling the deceased family to a Massachusetts Defective Products Liability Lawsuit. There are many unknowns about this case. From afar, there may be a defective product claim, but that would likely require the hiring of an expert or numerous experts. The issue of proper training is another avenue that an attorney will look at to see if that may have contributed to the accident. Additionally, knowing if that machine had similar problems in the past or any other operational issues in the past would be important, just as knowing when the last time that machine was inspected. These are just a few issues an attorney would look at. There may be many others that are not apparent right now but may be important as the investigation unfolds.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer soon after the accident.

Sources:

Worker killed in street sweeping accident in Norwood, The Boston Globe, July 5, 2011
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Contact a Massachusetts work injury lawyer if you have been injured in the workplace.

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