A 57-year-old mill worker lost his life on August 4 in a tragic forklift accident. The accident occurred around 10:00 a.m. at a Weyerhaeuser lumber mill near Ayden, North Carolina. The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office stated that the forklift overturned on the man and killed him. He had worked at the plant for over 7 years.
The mill has closed indefinitely and is offering counseling services to its employees. A company spokesperson said it “has lost a valuable member of our Weyerhaeuser team and we extend our thoughts and prayers to his family.”
The company, the North Carolina Department of Labor, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plan to investigate the incident. WITN.com reports that the mill has had four serious OSHA violations since 2009 and has also been cited for safety violations by state inspectors.
Safe practices are of paramount importance in workplace environments that contain heavy equipment and machinery. Despite federally mandated safety protocols, forklift accidents are not uncommon. In 2011, OSHA bumped up inspections of facilities that use forklifts after finding that forklifts cause about 85 fatal accidents and 34,900 serious injuries a year.
Expanding regulations and stepping up inspections is fine, but rules only work if everyone – from upper-level managers to entry-level employees – follows them all the time. Rules can’t protect people from carelessness or negligence, and in the industrial setting a moment of carelessness can have deadly consequences.
No family can really prepare for the sadness that comes with learning that their loved one was killed in this manner, and they shouldn’t have to. Every worker has the right to earn a living in a safe environment. I am truly sorry for their loss, and I know they must have many questions about what happened that morning at the mill. Hopefully the pending investigations will answer some of those questions.
After an unexpected death, families may hear the term “wrongful death lawsuit” and wonder what that is. Every untimely death is wrongful in some sense of the word, but wrongful death lawsuits are a specific kind of personal injury suit that seeks compensation for a death that was caused by another person or company’s negligence. Our site contains answers to some frequently asked questions about wrongful death lawsuits. If you have questions after a loved one’s workplace death, contact our knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys to discuss your legal options.