Tell supervisors to think twice before removing a manufacturer’s safety device on a machine, even if workers ask that it be done.
A manager at a vineyard in California is going to jail in connection with the death of a farm worker.
James Poole of Windsor, CA, pled no contest to a misdemeanor violation of a California law that prohibits removal of a manufacturer’s safety device.
Poole has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and 80 hours of community service work for an organization dedicated to worker safety.
His employer, Vino Farms of Lodi, CA, was ordered to pay a total of $200,000: $100,000 restitution to the victim’s family, a fine of $75,000 and a contribution of $25,000 to Ag Safe, an organization dedicated to worker safety.
An investigation showed on Jan. 22, 2011, Vino Farms employee Jose Ambriz-Luquin was working alone at a Vino vineyard in Santa Rosa, CA.
Ambriz-Luquin tried to get out of a tractor’s narrow opening when his clothing became caught. Poole had removed the tractor’s kill switch, which caused it to stop its engine and any forward movement when the driver leaves the seat.
The tractor moved forward pinning him underneath overnight. Ambriz-Luquin survived for several days before the injuries claimed his life.
His attorney said Poole removed the kill switch because tractor drivers said it made the seat too hot.
Besides paying the restitution and fine, Vino Farms will also change some of its procedures to comply with worker safety laws and to strengthen policies so employees can get emergency help when working alone.