Oregon OSHA is investigating the death of a 17-year-old high school senior who was crushed to death under a truck he was working on at a repair shop.
The local medical examiner identified the teen as Nicolai Kozhokar of Portland.
He’d been working at O & V Transport LLC in Portland.
Preliminary information from Oregon OSHA says Kozhokar was lying under the right front wheel of the semi-truck apparently working on the brake. The owner got in the driver’s seat of the truck and was trying to start it when it lurched forward. Kozhokar was crushed under the right front wheel.
It may be six months before the results of Oregon OSHA’s investigation are released.
All too common scenario
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics says the leading event or exposure for workplace deaths of automotive service technicians and mechanics is contact with objects and equipment, accounting for 44.1% of the fatalities in 2011.
In a more extensive report on mechanics covering 2003-2005, the leading sources of fatalities were vehicles (44.9%). Among the 66 fatalities during the three-year period, 34.8% were from being struck by falling objects, such as a vehicle falling off a lift, rack or jack.
Statistics for non-fatal injuries are similar. A total of 44.5% of injuries to mechanics in 2005 were due to contact with objects or equipment. Of those injuries, 19.5% involved vehicles, 13.9% involved non-powered hand tools and 9.2% involved engine parts.
Teen worker safety
OSHA says between 60 and 70 teens die on the job each year, and another 250,000 suffer workplace injuries.
The agency offers companies the following advice for young worker safety:
- Prohibit youth from performing dangerous/hazardous jobs (vehicle mechanic is not on the list of prohibited jobs for 16- and 17-year-olds)
- Ensure young workers receive training to recognize hazards
- Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new young workers
- Encourage young workers to ask questions
- Be aware that communicating with teens isn’t the same as communicating with adults
- Ensure equipment operated by young workers is both legal and safe for them to use, and
- Tell young workers what to do if they get hurt on the job.