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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 ‘United States Department of Labor’

A 66-year-old Man is Killed in a Heavy Equipment Construction Accident Near Poth, Texas

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Southeast of San Antonio and west of Poth, Texas, a construction worker was killed earlier this month. According to the employer, 66-year-old Salvador Guillen of New Braunfels was struck and killed in a construction accident involving heavy equipment. Guillen had been involved in the repaving work on 541 near FM 2505 when the fatal workplace accident occurred. The employer in this case is a contract company out of New Braunfels, the Dean Word Company. A company spokesperson expressed sorrow over the tragic incident and said Guillen had worked for the company from 1990 to 2008 and came out of retirement to rejoin the workforce in March 2017.

Other agencies at the scene included the Texas Department of Public Safety. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will be conducting an investigation of the scene. If safety violations are allegedly discovered, the employer will be subject to fines and penalties.

Back in 20006, OSHA reportedly issued a citation to the Dean Word Company for alleged violations related to accident prevention signs and tags. In 2009, OSHA issued a penalty to the employer for alleged violation of standard excavation requirements.

OSHA provides safety procedures for all industries. The purpose is to help to ensure that employers provide workers with a safe workplace environment. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries. There are many common dangers at construction work sites, and working near heavy equipment is among them. When safety measures aren’t taken, it puts lives at risk. It remains to be seen whether negligence was involved in this tragic workplace fatality.

–Guest Contributor

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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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Dallas Work Accident Attorney – Falls, Slips, and Trips, Such as from Ladders, are Leading Causes of Fatal Workplace Injuries

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Information about fatal workplace accidents is tracked with the United States Department of Labor and other agencies. The 2015 information on Texas fatal occupational injuries from the Texas Department of Insurance shows that transportation incidents were the most deadly, with 238 fatal incidents. The second most common type of fatal on-the-job accident was falls, slips, and trips, at a total of 86. The total number of fatal injuries caused by falls in the United States, all sectors included, was 4,836. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace environment, which includes providing appropriate equipment and safety measures to protect workers from dangerous, potentially deadly falls.

With regard to the Texas falls resulting in death, 79 involved falls to a lower level. Thirty-eight of those incidents were from structures and surfaces, including scaffolds and roofs. Sixteen were from equipment, instruments, and tools, such as ladders. An industrial or construction site is where 38 of the falls occurred and 25 happened at a residential construction site or private residence.

Ladder-Related Accidents

In the U.S. in 2015, there were more than 150 ladder-related fatal workplace falls. Ladders have ranked in the top ten of the most cited violations for two years, in the annual list shared by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The following are some ladder safety tips that can help prevent ladder-related workplace injuries and fatalities:

  • Ladders must be self-supporting and capable of holding four times the weight of the intended load.
  • Each ladder rung must be capable of supporting 250 pounds and should be rubberized, ribbed, or dimpled, to reduce the possibility of slipping.
  • Ladders must be placed on stable, level surfaces or secured to prevent movement.
  • Rungs must be spaced between 10” and 14” apart.
  • If a ladder is in a high-traffic area or in a doorway, barriers should be set up to prevent people from knocking into the ladders.

–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 Crane Operator Dies Following Contact with a Power Line

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

English: Repairing a power line in Weston, Flo...

English: Repairing a power line in Weston, Florida. Français : Réparation de ligne electrique à Weston, en Floride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fifty-nine-year-old David Sprague, crane operator, of Windham, Maine, died on the morning of Tuesday, April 18, 2017, after his vehicle came into contact with high tension power lines. The fatal workplace accident occurred at the Deerfield Wind Project, set to include 15 new wind turbines.

According to a spokesperson for Green Mountain Power, they had been asked to turn off the electrical power in the area.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that almost half of all overhead crane accidents involve machinery making contact with a power source. The definition of power line contact is: The inadvertent contact of any metal component of a crane with a high-voltage power line. This type of contact occurs most frequently when materials are being moved by a crane and the boom or hoist line touches an energized line.

Multiple fatalities and injuries can occur as a result of a single incident in which industrial machinery comes into contact with power lines. Approximately 200 people die from electrical line contact every year, and about 600 people per year suffer serious injuries. The majority of the victims are guiding a load with a crane at the time of the hazardous contact, but the danger extends to everyone at a worksite.

A lack of properly safety planning and neglecting preventative measures are the most common causes of power line contact.

OSHA provides safety regulations designed to protect crane operators from power line hazards. For example, all operators are advised to consider power lines energized until such time as the electric company verifies that it has been de-energized.

–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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