Quotation canceled in the event of death in the wood

In December, an Occupational Safety and Health Review Board judge ordered to quash a death citation issued to a Pennsylvania-based lumber supplier based on the definition of “authorize” in the review of corporate responsibility and control of employee conduct.

In November 2019, an 84 Lumber Co. employee was using a forklift to load bundles of lumber onto the bed of a tractor-trailer owned and operated by BLS Trucking when the BLS driver unexpectedly ran under the suspended load of the forklift. The package became unstable and fell on the BLS employee, killing him, according to court documents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent an officer from the Office of Safety and Health Compliance to conduct an inspection of the accident, which found 84 Lumber at fault for “permitting” to the BLS employee from getting under the loaded forklift. OSHA issued a one-item citation and proposed penalty of $13,494, according to the documents.

A trial took place in August 2021 in which four witnesses testified. Denver-based OSHRC Judge Patrick Augustine ruled that the definition of “authorize” in the rules would have been violated as express or implied permission given for certain behaviors.

In the court order issued in December 2021 and updated on February 24, the judge determined that 84 Lumber did not allow the BLS employee to go under the unstable forklift because the regulations define “permission” and therefore did not violate the cited standard, ordering the citation to be set aside.

Kevin A. Perras