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Owner and Manager Plead Guilty in Fatal San Francisco Workplace Accident

A workplace accident can be defined as an occurrence in the course of daily work which leads to physical or mental harm. Millions of employees are injured on the job every year through no fault of their own, while thousands of workplace accidents result in serious injuries and death. Just earlier this year, two defendants plead guilty to charges resulting from the 2008 workplace injury and eventual death of an employee at a San Francisco printing shop.

In April, Sanjay Sakhuja, owner and CEO of Digital Pre-Press International, pled guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and five counts of labor code violations. In addition, Alick Yeung, manager of Digital Pre-Press International at the time of the accident, pled guilty to one count of labor code violations.

On Jan. 29, 2008, Margarita Mojica, a 26 year old employee of Digital Pre-Press, was going about her normal work day. During the course of performing her duties, Margarita was tragically crushed to death by the jaws of a creasing and cutting machine. Margarita, a long-time resident of the Oakland area, was four months pregnant at the time of her death.

What Caused the San Francisco Workplace Accident?

Under California and OSHA requirements, the creasing and cutting machine Margarita was operating was supposed to be locked and the power turned off when not in use. This regulation is especially important for operators between jobs, as most large machinery must be set up and readjusted for its next use.

Once finished with the first job, Margarita began to set the creasing and cutting machine up for its next job. Just after leaning into its jaws to make an adjustment, the machine suddenly activated. She was quickly crushed beneath the powerful force of the machine’s grasp.  Tragically, the pregnant Margarita was pronounced dead on the scene. She left behind a husband and a young daughter.

The Resulting Charges for Employers

In December 2010, prosecutors charged both Sakhuja and Yeung in connection with Margarita’s death. The charges were filed after an extensive investigation showed that the employees of Digital Pre-Press International were never provided with the proper instruction or education on machine safety. As a result, Digital Pre-Press employees simply did not understand it was essential to turn off the machine’s power source before reaching inside the creaser to make between-job changes.

Prosecutors also claim that the creasing machine lacked required safety devices. Under California and OSHA standards, large pieces industrial of machinery must have specific safety devices in place that protect all operators and employees. Known as LockOut/TagOut, this federal regulation “addresses the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment, thereby preventing the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities.” Had the proper Lockout/Tagout regulations been implemented, Margarita may never have suffered such a horrific workplace accident.

In addition to the charges filed against Sakhuja and Yeung, Digital Pre-Press was also charged in the workplace fatality.

Holding Parties Accountable for Workplace Accidents

Appearing before Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ross, both Sakhuja and Yeung plead guilty to their respective charges. Yeung was sentenced after entering a guilty plea, receiving 150 hours of community service. He will also be required to attend California and OSHA worker safety courses.

Sakhuja, on the other hand, faces up to three years in prison and $250,000 of fines. He will be sentenced later this year on October 11.

A guilty plea was also entered on behalf of Digital Pre-Press. Judge Ross later stated that the San Francisco printing shop will be sentenced to five years of probation and be forced to pay a fine between $50,000 and $150,000.

San Francisco Workplace Injury Information

Workplace injuries and the tragic deaths that can result from these accidents end up costing billions in medical expense and lost wages every year. This monetary number says nothing of the emotional costs associated with workplace tragedies like Margarita’s.

When you think about it, a bulk of your life is spent at work. It makes sense that workplace injuries are not uncommon. Though most workplace injuries are generally covered by Workers’ Compensation, a personal injury claim may need to be filed when someone else’s negligence causes an injury. Many times the money that workers’ compensation pays does not cover all your expenses after a workplace injury.

If you have suffered a workplace accident, contact San Francisco workplace injury attorney Nelson C. Barry today.  We have extensive experience handling workplace accident cases and will fight to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (415) 587-0550 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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