Family Sues Employer of Man Killed By Industrial Chemical Burns
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) November 13, 2012 – The family of a Chicago resident killed in a workplace accident in 2011 has filed a wrongful death suit against the plant where the accident happened.
Carlos Centeno Sr. was working last November at Raani Corporation, a private label manufacturing and packaging firm in Bedford Park, Illinois, when a heated citric acid cleaning solution spewed from the tank he had been cleaning. His son, Carlos Centeno, Jr., described his father as a hard worker who focused on his family.
“Employees such as Mr. Centeno have a reasonable expectation that they will be able to work in a relatively safe environment,” said Paul Greenberg, a Chicago wrongful death attorney.
The Centeno family alleges that coworkers and supervisors did not call for help, or attempt to contact 911, or other medical services to assist Centeno, even though he suffered burns over 80 percent of his body.
Prior to the incident, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), found Raani Corporation in violation of 14 codes, one or more of which included failing to provide proper medical care for workers, as well as “failing to protect workers from improperly guarded power saws and hazardous chemicals.”
The inspection, initiated by OSHA on February 14, included a health inspection on February 24. The company's most serious violations included failing to perform regular inspections of sanders, grinders, guard saws, and forklifts, as well as health violations for not repairing welding cables, failing to determine workers' safety when exposed to benzene, chromium and formaldehyde during 8-hour shifts, and not properly enclosing electrical receptacles located in wet areas. All were classified as “serious” violations, meaning the extent of the safety failures could result in serious injury or death. Raani Corp was fined $473,000.
Gary Anderson, director of OSHA's Calumet City Area Office, stated that employers are responsible when it comes to protecting workers from avoidable workplace hazards and dangerous chemicals, and that employers must commit to their employees' health and safety.
After Mr. Centeno's death and the subsequent inspections and findings of safety violations, OSHA placed Raani Corp. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which tags what it considers to be “recalcitrant employers” who consistently endanger their workers, by repeatedly refusing, or otherwise failing to comply with worker safety laws. Authorities at Raani Corp. contest both the citations and the fines.
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