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Florida bottling plant cited in temporary worker's death

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Florida-based Bacardi Bottling Corporation for 12 safety violations after a 21-year-old temporary worker was crushed to death on his first day at the company's Jacksonville plant. The citations could result in serious penalties for the firm, with OSHA currently proposing fines of $192,000. However, the victim's family will have to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court if they wish to claim damages compensating them for the pain and suffering caused by the fatal accident.

OSHA issued two willful citations against Bacardi Bottling, accusing the company of failing to properly train temporary workers in lockout or tagout procedures in order to prevent machines from starting up unexpectedly. OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor bemoaned the increasing trend of untrained or temporary workers being killed shortly after beginning a new job. "A worker's first day at work shouldn't be his last day on earth," explained the secretary, who stressed that employers must ensure the safety of temporary workers as they do for full-time employees. He argued that had Bacardi Bottling trained the victim "on the hazards specific to that workplace" before he started working, the death may have been prevented.

According to OSHA's report, the fatal accident that sparked the citation as the victim was clearing glass from underneath a machine used to stack and orient pallets. Another employee restarted the machine without realizing the victim was still cleaning, causing it to fatally crush him.

Bacardi Bottling is also accused of a number of other serious violations, including obstructing fire exits, failing to minimize the risk of tripping and providing inadequate training for potentially dangerous tasks. OSHA issues citations for serious violations when an employer fails to address a hazard that has a substantial chance of causing serious injury or death. Bacardi Bottling has 15 business days to either contest the citations, request a meeting with an OSHA director or comply with the findings.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "US Labor Department's OSHA cites Jacksonville, Fla-based Bacardi Bottling following death of temporary worker on 1st day," Michael D'Anquino, Feb. 11, 2013


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