Friday, December 30, 2011

Workplace Safety Violations Result in Serious Consequences for Employers

The tragic case of Margarita Mojica, a 26-year-old printing plant worker killed at work in 2008, should stand as a sobering reminder to employers that workplace safety should be given the highest priority. Though protecting employees' lives should be incentive enough, employers like Ms. Mojica's may be criminally liable under the California Labor Code as well as criminal statutes.

In Ms. Mojica's case, the owner and manager of the San Francisco-based Digital Pre-Press International now face criminal charges for her death that was caused by a power press machine that lacked proper mechanical and handling safeguards. Ms. Mojica's case is but one of the approximately 6,000 workplace deaths that happen annually in the United States.

In a preliminary hearing, Judge Newton Lam found that a jury could find the employers committed criminal negligence in Ms. Mojica's untimely death. The defendants could each face up to four years and eight months of incarceration, plus fines of up to $250,000. The corporation faces up to $1.5 million in fines.

The California Labor Code contains numerous sections that impose criminal liability for employer violations. Although employers may not be frequently prosecuted for violations of the Labor Code, this case should remind employers that these criminal violations can be extremely serious.

If you believe you are working in an unsafe workplace due to faulty equipment, exposure to chemicals, or other inadequate safety measures, call Bryan Schwartz Law for a free consultation today: 510-444-9300.