A company in Seattle was recently fined after an industrial accident in San Diego revealed the company had several safety violations. Back in January, Phillip Vargas, 54, was working as a longshoreman at the Port of San Diego operating a forklift when an unexpected accident occurred. His forklift had struck a cement pillar and Vargas fell out of it [Source: NBC San Diego].
Sadly, the forklift continued moving and ran over Vargas which resulted in his death. When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of California came out to conduct their investigation, they found a number of safety violations. Some of those violations included:
- The employee was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident which may have prevented him from falling out.
- The forklift also had multiple safety devices disabled, one of those being a seatbelt warning buzzer.
- Another surprising violation that OSHA discovered was that the vehicle’s master interlock system was disabled, which is “designed to disconnect power from the hydraulic lift when the operator is unseated.” Had this feature been active, the forklift would have likely stopped in time before running over Vargas.
As a result of their findings, OSHA issued SSA Pacific Inc, which is a division of SSA Marine, six citations which resulted in fines that amounted to $205, 235. OSHA accused the company of not making “sure its employees did safety checks for forklifts at the beginning of each shift.” That was the reason for one of the citations that were issued. And it appears the company has had an issue with this in the past as it received a citation for a similar violation back in 2016.
After the tragic accident occurred, the company issued a statement saying, “Safety has been and always will be the number priority for SSA Marine operations. Our primary goal is to provide our employees a safe and healthy workplace. We are studying the OSHA findings carefully and will discuss these findings with OSHA. As we pride ourselves on having the safest operations on the waterfront, we take any findings against our operations most seriously and will obviously act on any improvement opportunity in liaison with all relevant stakeholders.”
Although the company was fined for the many violations it had, the source didn’t indicate whether the family had taken legal action of their own for the death of their loved one. Vargas was a father and a husband and had the company been following the safety practices that were in accordance with OSHA’s requirements and state regulations, the fatal incident may have been prevented.
Tragic accidents like these often leave many families feeling helpless. They have just lost someone close to them and don’t know what to do or how to move on. But, one of the things a family can do is speak with an accident lawyer in San Diego, CA who can help determine where the fault lies in the matter and if a party can be held accountable for their loved one’s death. Sometimes, this gives the families the answers they need along with the closure that allows them to move on.
Therefore, if you recently lost someone you love in a work-related accident in CA or they sustained serious injuries, contact San Diego, CA accident attorney Bruce S. Meth. The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth has been representing clients since 1982 and has extensive experience in handling personal injury cases along with those that stem from work-related accidents.
You can visit or call The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth at:
Mission Valley Office
1761 Hotel Court, Suite 250
San Diego, CA 92108
Scripps Ranch Office
11704 Petenwell Road
San Diego, CA 92131