Alleged Occupational Safety Violations Lead to Severe Back Injury

This case study explores a severe back injury sustained by an employee at a cylindrical gas plant due to alleged violations of workplace safety policies.

ByZach Barreto

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Published on February 6, 2024

Worker lifting gas containers

Case Overview

This case involves an individual who suffered a severe back injury during a workplace incident at a cylindrical gas plant. The individual was employed by a facilities service company. The company's primary responsibility was to monitor CO2 gas levels in canisters via computer data. It also ordered replacement CO2 canisters, and monitored gas levels during experiments. Another company present at the plant was responsible for storing, moving, and replacing these canisters. Before an extended holiday weekend, supervisors from both companies decided that the gas monitoring company would also handle the movement of the canisters. This was to avoid overtime costs.

A brief demonstration was given, along with written instructions. However, the injured party had never previously replaced gas cylinders in this manner. While lifting one of these cylinders during his shift, he severely injured his back. The cylinder company and warehouse owners are alleged to have violated their own workplace safety policies. An expert in occupational safety is sought to review the case and comment on industry standards.

Questions to the Occupational Health and Safety expert and their responses

Q1

Please describe your experience in occupational safety, specifically as it relates to policies intended to prevent lifting injuries.

I bring over 20 years of Occupational Safety and Health experience within various industrial operations, primarily manufacturing and warehousing.

My responsibilities have included developing, implementing, training on, and managing comprehensive Safety and Health programs based on all aspects of OSHA compliance. This includes material handling programs, safe lifting programs, ergonomic programs, and job-specific safety programs within organizations.

Q2

Briefly, what actions need to be taken when work requiring heavy lifting is delegated to an untrained employee?

Proper training based on the hazards and risks associated with general lifting as well as procedures and safe work practices related to the specific job should be conducted when an employee performs a job duty that has inherent risks. When someone has to perform a non-routine job function, additional training should be given to ensure that the employee understands the hazards and risks and can carry out those duties safely.

Q3

Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If yes, please elaborate.

I have been involved in numerous cases where employees were asked to perform tasks outside their usual scope without proper training or understanding of potential hazards. This process is evidence of a robust safety program within a company or organization.

About the expert

This expert brings over 30 years of experience in occupational environmental health and safety, with a BS in Chemistry from a renowned university. Their career spans various roles including an Occupational Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator, Director of Ink Development, Division Manager of Environmental Health and Safety, and most recently as an Occupational Environmental Health and Safety Manager. Currently serving as a consultant at a technical service group, this expert holds two patents and is certified in hazardous waste management, demonstrating their active engagement and expertise in the field.

Expert headshot

E-662703

About the author

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto is a distinguished professional in the legal industry, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Research at the Expert Institute. With a deep understanding of a broad range of legal practice areas, Zach's expertise encompasses personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, defective products, and many other sectors. His skills are particularly evident in handling complex litigation matters, including high-profile cases like the Opioids litigation, NFL Concussion Litigation, California Wildfires, 3M earplugs, Elmiron, Transvaginal Mesh, NFL Concussion Litigation, Roundup, Camp Lejeune, Hernia Mesh, IVC filters, Paraquat, Paragard, Talcum Powder, Zantac, and many others.

Under his leadership, the Expert Institute’s research team has expanded impressively from a single member to a robust team of 100 professionals over the last decade. This growth reflects his ability to navigate the intricate and demanding landscape of legal research and expert recruitment effectively. Zach has been instrumental in working on nationally significant litigation matters, including cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, toxic chemical exposure, and wrongful death, among others.

At the Expert Institute, Zach is responsible for managing all aspects of the research department and developing strategic institutional relationships. He plays a key role in equipping attorneys for success through expert consulting, case management, strategic research, and expert due diligence provided by the Institute’s cloud-based legal services platform, Expert iQ.

Educationally, Zach holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and European History from Vanderbilt University.

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