Safety and OSHA News

Business owner found guilty in employee fatality

The owner of a tree removal company faces three to seven years in a state prison for creating workplace conditions that led to a worker fatality.

A jury found Maurice Buzzell guilty of negligent homicide and a misdemeanor reckless conduct charge in the death of 22-year-old Jon Paul LaVigueur.

Buzzell owns and operates Buzzell Tree Service.

In August 2007, LaVigueur was struck in the head and torso by parts of an 80-foot pine tree. He was part of a four-person team pulling down the tree. As it started to fall, LaVigueur apparently ran in the same direction it fell.

Former employees testified they were taught by Buzzell not to move out of the way until a tree started to fall.

Prosecutors said Buzzell required employees to stand within the fall zone of trees they were pulling down.

At first the business owner claimed he wasn’t present when the tree was pulled down. Later he admitted he tied ropes together used by the men to bring the tree down.

Buzzell paid $12,500 in OSHA fines.

His sentencing date hasn’t been set.

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Comments

  1. Sounds like a circus and the employer is an idiot.

  2. What gets me is the LOW fine – negligent homicide and its only $12,500 – that’s a joke. It sends no real deterrent message to employers at all. OSHA fines overall are very low and suggest the US has a long way to go before worker safely is taken seriously.

  3. Ummm, I think the jail time will serve as a deterrent

  4. How do you not get out of the way of an 80 foot pine?!! There’s more to this story.

  5. What about personal responsibility of the employee? Is it really the employer’s fault that the guy ran in the direction of the tree? I’m sorry he’s dead. But why is it the employer’s fault? Man…I’m glad you guys don’t work for me.

  6. Like I said….there’s more to this story. Was the guy under the influence of some illicit substance? We (and in some cases, the jury) may never know!

  7. What about texting and use of a cell phone on company business while driving a car. In my opinion that is worse than what happened with the guy and the tree death.

    Next time you driving down the road, see how many people you see driving accross the yellow line or over into the next lane. I counted three just yesterday during lunch and I live in a rural area. This morning I got behind someone texting and they almost hit a tree.

    I think the guy with the tree cutting business should go to jail for a while. I also think that texting while driving should be a felony as well. I am just tired of alll the people that do either and think it is just fine to play around with others lives.

    What do you think?

    Please don’t text me because real men don’t text

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