For one Scotland-based business, fines to the tune of more than $77,000 are a major reason to improve workplace safety.
Cal/OSHA recently cited Menzies Aviation $77,250 for three serious accident related, one serious and one regulatory violation following an investigation into the February death of a worker at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), who was thrown from the vehicle he was operating without a seatbelt.
Cal/OSHA’s investigation determined that Menzies’ safety policy on the operation of tow tractors in and around LAX did not require, and in fact discouraged, the use of safety belts in certain areas of the airport. Tow tractors are used to pull luggage and cargo trailers throughout the airport.
Menzies was issued citations for one regulatory, one serious and three serious accident-related violations of state safety standards.
Safety Plan Could Have Prevented Tragedy
“This fatality could have been prevented with a well thought-out and implemented safety plan, as is required for all worksites in California,” said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Cal/OSHA, formally known as the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, is a division of DIR.
Cesar Valenzuela, a 51-year old ramp agent employed by Menzies, was driving a tow tractor the morning of Feb. 21 to pick up cargo at the airport. He was later found with his head pinned underneath one of the tires.
Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that a portion of the vehicle’s seat belt was missing on the tow tractor. State safety regulations require the use of a restraint system such as seatbelts when originally installed on tow tractors and industrial trucks.
The employer’s vehicle inspection procedures were also inadequate.
“Employers must follow and adhere to applicable safety regulations, especially when workers are operating equipment such as tow tractors,” said Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.
The Cal/OSHA safety inspector investigating the accident at LAX noted that numerous employees were observed operating tow tractors without using seatbelts or other restraints.
Menzies’ written safety program only required workers to use seatbelts when Department of Industrial Relations Release No.2014-74 Page 2 traveling on marked roadways or vehicle service roads, not when traveling to adjacent airport gates or aircraft parking areas.
Menzies Aviation, which has its headquarters in Scotland and operates in more than 30 countries, also inaccurately reported the fatal accident to Cal/OSHA as a heart attack.
Regulations require employers to accurately report work-related fatalities within eight hours to Cal/OSHA.
A serious workplace safety violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the violation. A regulatory violation is cited when an employer fails to comply with record keeping, posting or permit requirements.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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