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Welcome to Texas Work Injury Law Blog

This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for work injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by work injuries.

Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

A Construction Worker is Killed in an Incident Near Georgetown, Texas

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Jose de Jesus Diaz-Venezuela, age 38, died in a tragic construction accident near Georgetown, Texas, on Saturday evening, September 2, 2017. Diaz-Venezuela was installing gas lines when he was struck by a grader being driven by another worker. The grader is heavy equipment used to flatten surfaces. The grader struck Diaz-Venezuela and caused bleeding around his head, but it didn’t run over him. According to Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody, he was probably crouching down when he was struck. Immediately following the accident, Diaz-Venezuela was conscious. An ambulance was called and an EMS crew arrived, but he died at the scene at about 5:19 p.m.

The gas lines were being installed by a pipeline construction firm based out of Giddings, Texas. The senior safety coordinator at the company announced that the investigation was in its preliminary stages, appropriate authorities had been notified, and they will fully cooperate with the investigation.

As with all fatal workplace accidents, an investigation will be done by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency will try to determine whether negligence in the area of construction safety was a factor in the workplace fatality.

The construction site where the accident occurred is located approximately a mile off of West Texas 29, not far from DB Wood Road.

Chody said in an interview about the deadly incident that something obviously didn’t go right, but it is believed by sheriff’s deputies to be an accident.

Workers are entitled to work in a safe environment, and employers have a duty to provide them.

–Guest Contributor


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Work Accident Attorney Dallas, Texas – $10.5 Million in Grant Funding is Available from OSHA for Safety Training

Friday, August 25th, 2017

English: The Frances Perkins Building of the U...

English: The Frances Perkins Building of the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In July 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that grants to fund training and education for workers and employers are now available in a total amount of $10.5 million. The educational focus is how to identify and prevent workplace health and safety hazards.

The types of organizations that are eligible for grant monies include:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Labor unions
  • Employer associations
  • Joint labor/management associations
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Indian tribes

Grant recipients will be creating hands-on, in-person training and educational programs. They will also develop materials for employers and workers in small businesses; industries with high illness, injury, and fatality rates; and underserved, vulnerable workers who have limited proficiency with the English language or are temporary workers.

Grants for Targeted Topic Training are also available. They are meant to support the development of quality educational materials and training programs that focus on identifying workplace hazards and preventing them.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have a duty to provide employers with safe and healthful workplaces. OSHA’s role is to make sure safety conditions are met, to keep men and women safe in their work environments.

OSHA routinely inspects businesses and always inspects any business in which a fatal workplace accident has occurred. Inspections are conducted and safety conditions are evaluated. Following inspections, companies are given citations and penalties, for any alleged safety violations. It’s good for businesses to take advantage of these grant monies because OSHA penalties recently went up for the first time in 25 years, and they are high enough to hit small businesses significantly. For example, the maximum penalty for Serious Violations went from $7,000 maximum to $12,600 maximum. Willful and Repeat Violations went from $70,000 to $126.000 maximum.

–Guest Contributor


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Fall Protection: A Contract Worker Dies in a Workplace Accident in Dawson County, Texas

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

English: I took photo with Canon camera in Lam...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A contract worker from Lamesa, Texas, died in a workplace accident at Ten Mile Gin in Dawson County. The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office says 28-year-old Juan Molina allegedly fell a distance of about 35 feet, on June 9, 2017. Vickie Lanham, Assistant Justice of the Peace, pronounced Molina dead at the scene. The deceased had been working as the employee of a contractor on a job at the gin, according to Josh Peterson, Chief Deputy. Molina had been at the top of the gin when he allegedly fell, hitting things on his way down to the ground.

No further details have been released about this fatal workplace accident. It is known, however, that falls are among the most common types of on-the-job accidents. Employers have a responsibility to provide workers with protection from falls in specific situations. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has new regulations regarding falls that have gone into effect this year, and they reportedly affect 112 million workers.

There are new specifics on fall safety for workers, and the following is an outline of the areas affected:

  • Fall protection systems and walking-working surfaces
  • Ladders, guardrails, and stairways
  • Roof work changes
  • Training for employees
  • Workplace assessments
  • Alignment between the construction industry and general industries.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor


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Work Injury Attorney Dallas – Extreme Heat in Summer Demands Safety Steps for Texas Employers

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

English: HOUSTON, Texas (Dec. 11)--The Port of...

English: HOUSTON, Texas (Dec. 11)–The Port of Houston, the busiest in the nation in terms of foreign tonnage, is accessed by a 54-mile long ship channel. In an average day more than 700 vessel transit the channel. Here, a ship passes under the Fred Hartman bridge on the Houston ship channel, December 11. USCG photo by PA2 James Dillard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All year around, employers have a responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace environment. When a job involves outdoor work in summer, extreme caution is necessary. Heat-related injuries and fatalities occur every year, though they are virtually always considered preventable. Texas employers will hopefully avoid placing workers in circumstances that allegedly took the life of a 59-year-old man in 2015 in Houston, Texas. The man had been hired for the day to sort aluminum cans, but the heat was excessive. According to OSHA area director Joann Figueroa, the man died of heat illness at a recycling company based in Houston. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been waging annual campaigns to prevent heat illness and heat-related fatalities among outdoor workers. The following information regarding heat stress is from OSHA.

Why is heat hazardous to workers?

In a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat, in order to maintain a stable internal temperature. Sweating and circulating blood to the skin are the main ways the body does this. If the air temperature is too close to or warmer than normal body temperature, however, it becomes more difficult to cool the body. The blood that is circulated to the skin can’t lose the extra heat. Sweating is only effective if the humidity level is low enough to allow for evaporation and if salts and fluids that are lost in the heat are replaced adequately.

If the body is unable to get rid of excess heat, it begins storing it. This causes the heart rate to increase and the core temperature to rise. A person in this condition will begin having trouble concentrating and focusing on tasks. He or she may become sick or irritable. The desire to drink is often lost. There are various other symptoms, including fainting. If a person isn’t cooled in time, death can occur.

–Guest Contributor


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After 2 Workers Die, Company is Fined $1,475,813 and a Man is Charged with Manslaughter – Part 4

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

English: The Frances Perkins Building of the U...

English: The Frances Perkins Building of the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed penalties of almost $1.5 million against Atlantic Drain Service Company, Inc., in Boston, MA, following an inspection instigated by two workplace fatalities. In addition, the owner faces two manslaughter charges as well as other criminal charges in connection with the workers’ deaths and safety issues on the job.

News sources revealed more details about the deaths of workers Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks. As they were working in a trench that was approximately 12 feet deep, the trench collapsed. The men were both trapped by soil up to their waists. Tragically, the collapse of the trench caused an adjacent supply line to a fire hydrant to break. The trench was quickly filled with water from the broken water pipe, and the men were trapped underwater within seconds. Coworkers tried desperately to save the men, but they both drowned.

The man who oversaw the work at Atlantic Drain on the day the workplace fatalities occurred, the same man criminally charged, allegedly failed to:

  • Install a trench support system to protect workers in a 12-foot trench from a trench collapse;
  • Prevent the adjacent fire hydrant line from breaking, by virtue of failing to prevent a trench collapse;
  • Remove workers from the dangerous trench conditions;
  • Provide the workers with training that would equip them to identify and address dangers associated with excavation work and trenching;
  • At all times provide a ladder so that workers could exit the trench;
  • Support structures near the trench that posed overhead dangers; and
  • Provide workers with eye protection and hard hats.

Atlantic Drain was cited for 18 willful, serious, repeat, and other-than-serious violations of safety standards for the workplace. In 2007 and 2012, OSHA alleges to have cited the company for similar hazards related to trenching worksites.

See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor


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After 2 Workers Die, Company is Fined $1,475,813 and a Man is Charged with Manslaughter – Part 3

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

The seal of the United States Department of Labor

The seal of the United States Department of Labor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed penalties of almost $1.5 million against Atlantic Drain Service Company, Inc., in Boston, MA, following an inspection instigated by two workplace fatalities. In addition, the owner faces two manslaughter charges as well as other criminal charges in connection with the workers’ deaths and safety issues on the job.

The following are more details about specific citations against Atlantic Drain for willful safety violations that were allegedly committed:

The employer allegedly failed to instruct each employee on being able to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions or on regulations applicable to his or her work environment, so that they were equipped to control or eliminate any dangers or other exposure to injury or illness. More specifically, employees were allegedly routinely exposed to hazards from power tools, cave-in hazards, and other dangers, including vehicular traffic. The employer also allegedly routinely fails to instruct individual employees on the recognition and avoidance of hazardous conditions associated with unsupported utilities, tools, trenches, and traffic. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $126,749. This proposed penalty was listed five separate times for specific workers, at $126,749 for each.

The employer allegedly exposed employees to cave-in hazards while they were working in trenches. A safe means of access/egress was not kept in the trench at all times, as required. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $126,749.

See Part 1 and Part 2 of this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor


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A 23-year-old Construction Worker Dies in an Industrial Accident

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

English: A Caterpillar 930G fitted with a load...

English: A Caterpillar 930G fitted with a loader rake on a residential construction site in South Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 5, 2017, in El Campo, Texas, one construction worker was killed and another critically injured in an industrial accident that occurred at about 11:30 a.m. The fatal accident occurred at a construction site on Marek Lane. According to authorities, a 70-year-old front-end loader operator was moving a large tire and set of wheels. Two men were crushed by the tire when the operator set the load down. Twenty-three-year-old Anthony Pedro Cruz died from his injuries that day. Fifty-five-year-old Jose Luna was transported to a Houston hospital, where he was said to be in critical condition.

When the tragic accident occurred, the front-end loader operator was being directed by another work, but neither of them saw Cruz or Luna. The incident is being investigated by the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will also conduct an investigation; it’s standard procedure when a fatal workplace accident occurs.

A foundational approach to addressing this type of hazard is to have a spotter. Employees need to be trained on where blind spots are located. Those who work around industrial vehicles benefit from spending time in the driver’s seat. This allows them to get a clearer understanding of where blind spots are and what the driver can see.

OSHA provides specific safety standards regarding struck-by hazards, which covers incidents like this tragic construction fatality that occurred last week. A couple of those guidelines follow:

  • Workers must be highly visible at all times of the day or night. Red or orange vests must be worn.
  • Workers on or near a construction zone are advised not to place themselves in a situation of being at risk of being struck by a vehicle or getting caught in a situation that has no escape route.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers have a safe workplace environment. When they fail in that responsibility, they are subject to being cited and fined by OSHA.

–Guest Contributor


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A 43-year-old Oilfield Worker is Killed on the Job in Brazoria County, Texas

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

English: Oil well An oil rig used for training.

English: Oil well An oil rig used for training. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, a fatal workplace accident occurred in Brazoria County, Texas, south of Pearland near Highway 35 and County Road 129. A piece of equipment weighing between 2,500 and 3,500 pounds was being lifted when it broke free and fell to the ground, also striking and killing 43-year-old Antonio Perez of El Campo. The tragedy occurred at the Denbury Resources Oil Field. The oilfield worker was pronounced dead at the scene, and an investigation into the accident is ongoing.

There are certain risks associated with all work environments, and an oil field is among the more dangerous workplaces. Employers have a responsibility to workers to follow safety guidelines provided by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The following are safety hazards that are associated with oil and gas extraction activities, as identified by OSHA:

  • Machine hazards
  • Struck-by, caught-in, and caught between hazards
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Explosions and fires
  • Falls
  • Ergonomic hazards
  • Confined spaces
  • Electrical and other hazardous energy
  • High pressured lines and equipment

For each of these hazardous areas and more, OSHA provides safety guidelines. Employers have access to what they need to maximize the safety in every work environment. When companies fail to follow safety rules, there is a greater likelihood that someone will be seriously hurt or killed.

Many would argue that when it comes to hazardous machinery and equipment in the workplace, the oil and gas industry ranks first. Dangerous machines often operate in unguarded areas, which puts workers at further risk. The following are examples of operations that should be performed with great caution by competent operators:

  • Spinning chain
  • Heavy lifts and hoists
  • Traveling derrick
  • drilling
  • Loading and unloading materials

–Guest Contributor


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36-year-old Man Dies in a Construction Site Trench Collapse in San Antonio, Texas

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

San Antonio is the largest city in South Texas.

San Antonio is the largest city in South Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On March 9, 2017, 36-year-old David Allen Williams was working at a construction site in San Antonio, Texas, in wet weather when he fell into a trench that collapsed. He was trapped in heavy clay soil, up to his neck. At about 4:30 pm, when rescue firefighters arrived on the scene, they found that co-workers were attempting to rescue Williams. The firefighters continued the attempt, but Williams died while efforts to help him were still underway. The tonnage of the soil that entrapped him was more than anyone could withstand, according to Chief Charles Hood of the San Antonio Fire Department. He also said the conditions for trying to dig someone out were some of the worst.

During the extended period of recovery, the trench walls had to be secured once again, to prevent any further collapse.

This tragic workplace fatality will be investigated by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This is the federal organization designed to hold employers responsible for the safety of their workers.

Trench collapses are well covered in OSHA safety guidelines because trenches are known to be potentially deadly. Construction sites virtually always involve some sort of trenching. There are a number of dangers associated with trenching, including:

  • If heavy machinery gets too close to the edge of a trench, the result can be a dangerous collapse;
  • Working too close to traffic can cause sides of trenching to be more unstable;
  • Electrical hazards are present overhead and underground.
  • Natural gas can also be a dangerous underground utility in a construction trench.
  • It is required the trenches be tested for toxic gases before workers enter, since that is another common threat to worker safety.
  • In wet weather conditions, when it is difficult to stabilize soil, workers are not supposed to work in trenches.

Enforcement of trenching and excavation operations has been increased by OSHA in recent years, due to the risks involved and the number of lives lost. It is of utmost importance that employers protect workers with correct trenching measures, since even one square yard of soil is more weight than a person may be able to survive.

–Guest Contributor

 


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An Oklahoma Company is Hit with $535,411 in proposed OSHA Fines

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) holds employers responsible for failing to provide employees with a safe work environment. Companies must understand the safety standards for their own industries and comply or face penalties. BigTex Trailer Manufacturing Inc., doing business as CM Truck Beds, out of Oklahoma allegedly created a work environment in which employees could be killed or seriously injured, according to OSHA area director in Oklahoma City, David Bates. As a result of a complaint alleging that the working conditions were unsafe, an investigation of the facilities was done in July 2016. OSHA investigators issued citations for 20 alleged serious violations, two alleged repeat violations, one alleged willful violation, and several other-than-serious alleged violations. Proposed penalties issued in January 2017 amounted to $535,411.

The following are brief descriptions of some of the 20 serious alleged violations CM Truck Beds was cited for. The company allegedly failed to:

  • Label chemicals properly.
  • Ensure the safe use of powered industrial trucks.
  • Ensure the safe use of the spray booth in order to prevent overexposure.
  • Store compressed gas tanks properly.
  • Cover floor holes safely and ensure exits are properly labeled and accessible.
  • Inspect and guard sprockets and chain slings.
  • Ensure safety guards on a portable grinder were in place.
  • Maintain a program for hazardous energy control and train workers on safety procedures.

The one alleged willful violation involved failing to provide machine guarding in order to protect operators and other workers in the area from hazards such as those created by flying chips and sparks, rotating parts, ingoing nip points, and point of operation. The proposed OSHA penalty for this alleged violation alone is: $124,709.

Learn more specifics about various alleged violations in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor


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