OSHA Cites Theme Park After Employee Death
A 30-year-old employee died in a fatal scooter crash at his place of employment—a Western-style theme park. OSHA faulted the theme park for failing to put signage near a dangerous location. The theme park was cited for two serious safety violations.
Workers at the park had jerry-rigged a gate with a nylon strap to keep the gate closed. The worker struck the nylon strap as he was going through the gate and died of his injuries. The company was faulted for creating a dangerous condition that led to the death of the worker. They were also cited for failing to properly repair the gate. OSHA said that the tow strap should have been more visible, could have used reflective tape, or a warning sign could have been placed to alert workers of the danger. The company was further cited for failing to train employees on the proper use of the scooters.
OSHA has proposed a $20,000 fine to hold the company accountable for the death.
Unsafe premises and OSHA lawsuits
Employers can be held liable by OSHA for unsafe conditions on their premises that increase the risk of worker death or injury. In this case, the jerry-rigged fence was blamed for creating a dangerous condition that ultimately led to a workers’ death. OSHA felt that the company should have ensured that all employees were aware of the danger but failed to render that ordinary duty of care. As a result, OSHA has proposed a $20,000 fine.
However, the violation wasn’t considered as serious as some other violations. OSHA did not find that the violation was willful, only negligent. Had the OSHA found that the violation was willful, the company could have been charged with a crime and faced a potential penalty of over $500,000.
Death benefits versus wrongful death
Georgia makes it nearly impossible for a worker’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit against an employer. But not all states operate that way. In some states, workers may file wrongful death lawsuits if the infraction involves gross negligence or willful misconduct. This depends entirely on the state’s laws and has nothing to do with OSHA per se. OSHA can file lawsuits through to the DOJ to hold companies criminally liable for willful misconduct. However, in Georgia, a slain worker’s family can only recover death benefits from workers’ compensation.
Companies that operate any kind of machinery are expected to provide employees with adequate training, even if the machinery is a scooter. In this case, OSHA found that the scooter was being operated negligently and that a known danger was left present increasing risk to the workers.
Talk to a Decatur, GA Workers’ Compensation Attorney
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