OSHA declares Bellingham worker’s death preventable

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared the death of a worker at a Bellingham Massachusetts used auto parts business as preventable, and the result of a lack of proper safety training.

The employee was inflating a tire while working at John’s Used Autos and Parts LLC when he was struck in the head by a “chain come-a-long” device that is used to mount rim wheels onto tires. The incident occurred on Oct. 31, 2016 and the employee perished from his injuries on Nov. 11.

An investigation into the workplace fatality was launched by OSHA’s Braintree office and found that the employer did not:

  • Train and instruct the employee in correct and safe operating procedures for servicing multi-piece rim wheels.
  • Establish a safe set of standard operating procedures.
  • Provide a restraining device for employees to use while inflating a tire

The investigation also resulted in violations against the employer regarding a lack of exit route signage for employees in the event of an emergency, providing protective equipment to employees, providing adequate forklift training, and providing adequate training for electrical safety and dealing with hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

More egregiously, the employer did not alert OSHA about the employee’s death after the incident, which is required by federal law. The total citations levied as a result of these violations amounted to $27,157.

“This employee’s death was preventable,” said James Mulligan, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. “Servicing rim wheels such as these is dangerous, exposing employees to struck-by and other hazards. An employer must train workers properly and equip them to do this kind of work safely before they start the job. I urge all employers performing this type of work to review their operations and take the required corrective action, so no other workers are killed.”

MA Workplace deaths are preventable

The death of a worker is always a tragedy, but deaths that were preventable are especially unforgivable. If the employer had provided the proper training or adequate safety equipment, this worker may very well be alive today. The negligence of the employer leaves them open to lawsuits from any member of the deceased’s family.

It is absolutely imperative that employers take the utmost care in guaranteeing the safety of their employees to the best of their ability. Not providing training to perform potentially-dangerous procedures is textbook negligence, as an employee cannot be expected to perform a duty safely if they were never properly instructed how to perform the task.

The fines levied by OSHA may or may not persuade an employer to take safety more seriously, but the threat of a costly lawsuit will force negligent employers to take notice. If you or somebody you love was injured or killed in a workplace incident involving a negligent employer, you are entitled to receive financial compensation to pay for the many expenses that crop up as a result.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we specialize in personal injury cases that happened as a result of negligence, and have over 40 years of experience getting those who were injured the financial recompense that they need to pay their medical bills, restore funds lost from missed time at work and, in the worst cases, the costs of funeral and burial services.

We will stop at nothing to hold those responsible for workplace injuries and deaths accountable for their carelessness. A consultation from one of our legal professionals to look over the details of your case is totally free, and we don’t receive any payment unless you are successful in a claim. Call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.


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