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New York company cited for violations after workplace fatality

If you drive northwest of Newburgh for about two and a half hours, you'll come to the town of Vestal. The pace is a little slower than it is here, but the quiet was broken this past March when tragedy struck at a pipe and plastics manufacturing plant there.

A truck driver was fatally struck by a forklift driver employed by the pipe manufacturer. The fatal workplace accident prompted an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the agency recently announced a series of safety violations and proposed fines for the company.

Two of the safety violations inspectors found were related to the fatal accident: the forklift's back-up alarm wasn't working and the forklift operator couldn't clearly see where he was going with the heavy piece of equipment.

OSHA noted that the pipe manufacturer's failure to properly maintain its equipment contributed to the needless death of the truck driver who worked for another company.

The Labor Department agency also found other safety and health violations, it said, including surfaces with accumulating combustible dust, stairs that were fixed at an improper angle, a failure to install handrails on stairways and a failure to have slip-resistant rungs on portable ladders.

Penalties proposed for the New York company total $67,000. But of course, none of that money will help the victim's family through their grief or with their loss of income.

In similar cases, a first step in addressing the financial hardships brought about by a company's negligence is for a victim's family to sit down with an experienced attorney and discuss legal options. In many cases, it's possible for an attorney to help them receive full, fair compensation for their financial losses.

Source: OSHA, "Vestal, NY, pipe manufacturer cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA for 16 serious health and safety violations after worker fatally struck by forklift," Sept. 30, 2013

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