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Monday, April 15, 2013

Recent case in California dramatizes importance of proactive accident prevention

In a development at least as sad as the one in my 8-April-2013 post, on Wednesday in San Francisco, the owner and pressroom manager of Digital Pre-Press International both pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the January-2008 death of an employee, Margarita Mojica.  Mrs. Mohica was fatally injured when the cutter/creaser on which she was working suddenly activated as she reached into it.  At the time of her death, she was 26 years old and expecting a baby.

Court records showed that the company’s staff were not trained on proper safety procedures, including turning off a cutter/creaser’s power source before setting up jobs.  The fatal machine also allegedly lacked required safety devices.

Charges against the owner, Sanjay Sakhuja, amounted to involuntary manslaughter and five felony counts of willful violations of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations causing death or permanent injury.  If convicted, Mr. Sakhuja faces a $250,000 fine and up to three years in state prison.  Additionally, the company could be fined up to $1.5 million.  If the fines are paid, his sentence may be reduced to just one year in county jail and five years’ probation.

The pressroom manager, Alick Yeung, who was changed with a misdemeanor count of violating the state-s OSHA codes, is receiving three years’ probation.

Earlier, state regulators issued 14 citations against the company for failing to properly train workers, which included $81,000 in fines, and Digital Pre-Press International paid $6 million to Mrs. Mojica’s family, including her husband and young daugher, in settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit.

I hope the day comes soon when no one in the printing industry will carry any more painful memories of these kinds of devastating industrial accidents.  

On a less tragic scale, just this week I learned that two of my friends in related industries, both men in their 30s, are recovering from broken bones resulting from on-the-job accidents in high-pressure workplaces.  

PLEASE be careful out there!