• John Larrimer

OSHA Recommends Criminal Charges Be Filed in Egregious Worker Death

The progressive news website Salon recently printed a story first reported by WBEZ-FM about Carlos Centeno, a temporary worker in Chicago who died in a horrific workplace accident. Centeno suffered burns at a factory in November 2011 when a vat of water and citric acid heated to 185 degrees Fahrenheit spilled onto him. He died from his injuries three weeks later.

Centeno worked at the Raani Corp. plant in Bedford Park, Illinois, and management at the facility allegedly failed to take appropriate action after the water and acid spilled on him. Raani management failed to place Centeno in a safety shower and did not call 911 even though his skin was peeling. Thomas Galassi, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs wrote in a memo that it took a minimum of 38 minutes before Centeno arrived at an occupational health clinic. Another employee had to drive Centeno to the clinic in his own vehicle. Workers at the clinic immediately called 911.

OSHA investigated the incident and determined that management at the facility was grossly negligent. OSHA even suggested that criminal charges should be filed against management, which is virtually unheard of in OSHA investigations.

“The EMT’s were horrified and angered at the employer for not calling 911 at the scene and further delaying his care by transferring him to a clinic instead of a hospital,” said Thomas Galassi, head of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs. John Newquist, who retired in September after 30 years with OSHA and investigated more than 100 fatal workplace accidents, told WBEZ that the case was “among the most disturbing he encountered as an assistant regional administrator in Chicago.”

“I cannot remember a case where somebody got severely burned and nobody called 911,” Newquist said. “It’s beyond me.”

If you or a loved one sustained serious injuries while on the job, you could be entitled to compensation if the accident was the result of another party’s negligence. Please contact our offices today for a free consultation if you need assistance in filing for workers comp.

Tip of the week: If you need to call 911 on the job, you should never hesitate to do so. It is better to be safe than sorry, and your employer cannot punish you for calling emergency services if you believe it is warranted.

Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys

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