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California announces penalties in incidents of temporary workers’ crushing death, amputation

April 19, 2019

California officials announced penalties this week against staffing client companies and staffing firms in two separate incidents: One where a temporary worker was fatally crushed and a separate incident where a temporary worker suffered the amputation of two fingers.

Fatality. In one incident, a farm worker at a walnut processing facility in Los Molinos, California, was under an 800-pound bin dumper on Oct. 6, 2018, when it emptied its load of walnuts and automatically lowered to the ground, crushing him, the California Department of Industrial Relations reported. The worker had been instructed to clean the area around the equipment.

Workplaces hazards were not evaluated, and the worker did not receive training from either the staffing client, Crain Walnut Shelling, or staffing provider, Cal North Farm Labor Inc. of Fresno, California, before being assigned to clean concrete and machinery, according to the state.

Crain Walnut Shelling faces $67,500 in proposed penalties. The state found its walnut bin did not include proper machine guards or lockout/tagout procedures and that it did not provide an extension tool for cleaning the area. Such a tool would have reduced crushing hazards, it said.

Cal North Farm Labor faces proposed penalties of $33,750 for no ensuring that workers are properly trained, according to the state.

Amputation. Separately, A staffing firm and client company face proposed penalties after a temporary worker lost two fingers while cleaning machinery at a food manufacturing facility in Los Angeles, the California Department of Industrial Relations reported Tuesday.

The worker was cleaning a dough rolling machine on Oct. 2, 2018, when his left hand was partially pulled into the machine’s moving rollers. It caused two of his fingers to be amputated.

Priority Workforce Inc. was the staffing firm that assigned the employee to JSL Foods Inc., a maker and distributor of noodles, pasta and baked goods.

State investigators found the machinery had not been adequately guarded to prevent fingers from entering pinch points or de-energized and locked out while the worker was cleaning it. Neither employer had trained the worker to follow lockout/tagout procedures, according to the state.

JSL Foods faces $276,435 in proposed penalties for seven violations, including one willful repeat serious violation and one willful repeat serious accident-related violation. The company was twice cited in 2015 for similar violations, according to the department.

Priority Workforce, of Tustin, California, faces $29,250 in proposed penalties for three serious violations, according to the state.

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