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Employer Sentenced for Death of Printing Press Employee; Failure to Train in Safety

May 10th, 2013

What if you could purchase jail insurance?  You’d pay your premium and, if you ever get sentenced to jail or prison time, the insurance policy would pay for someone to serve your time for you.  That’s not going to happen, and workers’ compensation doesn’t provide that coverage either.

Some employers think that workers’ compensation is a panacea – no matter what happens to their employees, the employer is covered.  That’s wrong – very wrong.  Not only is that mentality incorrect, it’s also dangerous for the employees.

Take, for example, the story of Sanjay Sakhuja, who recently plead guilty and was sentenced to jail time for involuntary manslaughter after of his machines crushed a 26-year-old mother who was four months pregnant, resulting in her death.

The employer, Digital Pre-Press International, was alleged to have failed to properly train its employees (CAL/OSHA required the machined to be locked and powered off between uses, but it was not in this case).  Just imagine a Home Depot employee told to “figure it out” when a customer asks for lumber to be cut with the industrial-sized power saw.

Workers’ compensation will cover an employer within reason – the system is meant to be blind to fault or negligence.  But any time you’re working with serious machinery like this, from saws to presses to trucks and tractors, you can’t afford not to invest in proper training and safety.

Without going into the moral liability, no amount of insurance will take your place in a jail cell if an employee’s life is lost because you failed to take proper precautions.  No insurance policy will be able to return a wife and mother and unborn child to their family either, and that fact will haunt any half-decent human being long after the business closes and the jail term is over.

Hopefully, this story will remind employers in California, large and small, that the insurance policy is “just in case,” and a mixture of safety and common sense is the first and best line of defense against such horrible tragedies.

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