OSHA: Worker Fall Is Due to Alleged Employer Neglect

April 22, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An employer accused of not preventing an employee from riding in the bed of a pickup truck, which ultimately led to his untimely demise, is facing charges of willful and serious safety violations.

>Anderson Columbia Co, Inc’s actions in the matter have resulted in a citation for a willful violation, with a $70,000 proposed penalty, for failing to provide an adequate seat and seat belt for an employee working from the back of a truck.   Further, the company was cited for a serious violation, with a proposed $7,000 penalty, for failing to properly secure materials being transported in the same compartment with employees, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a news release.

Accident Report

>The fatal accident occurred August 7, 2002 as an employee of the Lake City, Florida company was placing traffic-warning signs near White Springs, Florida where the company was installing pipelines. After placing a sign, the employee returned to the truck bed and sat down near the remaining signs while the driver slowly drove to the next location. At some time before reaching the final location, the driver noticed his co-worker had fallen out of the truck bed.

>OSHA conducted an investigation and determined the probable cause of the accident was that the worker fell from the truck bed as he attempted to reach for a sign caught by a wind gust. The worker died four days later from massive head injuries.

“To prevent this type of needless tragedy, OSHA standards require employers to provide employees with adequate seats and seat belts when they are transported in, or work from, vehicles,” said James Borders, OSHA’s Jacksonville area director, whose office conducted the investigation.

The company’s written policy requires employees to ride on seats provided and use seat belts and prohibits them from riding in the back of company pickup trucks. “But company officials failed to enforce the rules,” said Borders.   The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA’s citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Board.