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Employer settles unsafe work conditions civil suit in sawmill death

Posted On: Apr. 29, 2019 10:18 AM CST


A California sawmill company has settled a civil suit for unlawful business practices regarding workplace safety laws as a result of the death of a worker in 2013, Sonoma County, California, District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced Thursday.

Morgan Hill, California-based Pacific States Industries Inc., doing business as Redwood Empire Sawmill, was sued by the district attorney in 2016 following the death of millworker Raul Lule, who died in a bark conveyor that the employees regularly walked on while they were unjamming it, according to the announcement documenting an investigation by Ms. Ravitch’s office that led to allegations of unsafe practices.

Specifically, Ms. Ravitch’s office discovered “a culture of production over safety at the mill and that the sawmill and its two other facilities in Sonoma County did not have written procedures for employees to use to work on, unjam or clean machinery and equipment, including the bark conveyor where Mr. Lule died,” according to a statement.

As part of the settlement, Pacific State agreed to pay civil penalties, restitution and costs totaling $375,000, with Mr. Lule’s wife and children receiving $177,500. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office will recover the remainder of the settlement to cover court and investigation costs, according to the statement.

Officials with the company could not immediately be reached for comment.