Suit Claims Safety Violations Caused Sawmill Worker's Wrongful Death

The family of a man who died of personal injuries sustained while working at a sawmill has filed suit against the company for alleged safety violations.


According to the suit his family filed on December 29th, Jose Luis Flores Guadarrama was an employee of Southern Hardwood Co. when he died on January 20, 2007.


Guadarrama was using a board edger to make wooden boards for pallets when the machine “shot back” a board into his chest.

According to the wrongful death suit, he was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest.


After the accident occurred, investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) visited the site and the company was cited with numerous violations. Teresa Gomez Gonzalez, Guadarrama’s widow and a Mexican national, believes those violations to be the cause of her husband’s accident.


Gonzalez filed the suit individually and on behalf of the estate of Guadarrama, and as next friend of Sarah Flores Gomez against Southern Hardwood Co. LLC.


The complaint alleges that “serious” citations were issued against Southern Hardwood by OSHA for the company’s failure to ensure proper warnings were displayed on the edger and failure to ensure the equipment with worn kickback features had been restored to good serviceable condition.


Other OSHA violations included failure to ensure the chop saw and pulley on the log deck were guarded, failure to ensure the inclined belt on the chop saw was guarded, and failure to ensure various sprockets and drives were guarded.


Several other violations were detailed by the complaint, such as the failure to have identifying information on electrical equipment, failure to ensure that the electrical box had been covered, failure to properly cover panel boards, the use of flexible cords on equipment rather than fixed wiring, failure to ensure enclosures were suitable for interior locations, and failure to ensure that electrical switches and breakers were in containers that were waterproof.


The suit alleges gross negligence on the part of the defendant for failure to maintain its equipment and premises in a manner that was safe, failure to provide effective safeguards, failure to provide a safe place to work, failure to set appropriate guidelines for safety and the prevention of accidents, and hiring, supervising, retaining, and training employees that were unable to create and maintain a safe place to work.

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