(c) 2019 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 29, 2018

OSHA Cites Company for Exposing Workers to Lightning Strikes

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited C.W. Hendrix Farms Inc. for failing to protect workers from recognized hazards after lightning struck and killed an employee at the Parkland, Florida, farm.
OSHA inspectors determined that Hendrix Farms exposed employees to lightning strikes as they picked vegetables in inclement weather. The company faces a penalty of $12,934, the maximum amount allowed.
“This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had trained management and employees on the hazards of working in severe weather,” said OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Office Director Condell Eastmond.

Lightning strikes are a compensable event under workers' compensation. A worker was killed by lightning which struck him in the head while working on pipes. The injury was deemed compensable since the nature of his duties required him to remain at his post as a thunderstorm approached. The court held that exposing him to such a risk his death was the result of an accident “arising out of the employment” and was compensable. Mixon v. Kalman, 123 NJL 113, 42 A,2d 309 (NJ Court of Errors and Appeals 1945).
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters).
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