Worker’s Death Leads To Citation For Department Of Natural Resources

In Louisiana the Department of Labor & Industries has cited the Department of Natural Resources for five serious safety violations after investigating the death of Samuel Gaydeski, a heavy equipment operator for DNR. The citation carries a possible penalty of $16,650.

Gaydeski was found dead beneath his brush-cutter in February. He had been working alone on a logging clearing brush with a 314C Cat excavator that had an attached brush-cutting head. L&I inspectors concluded that Mr. Gaydeski left his excavator running when he jumped out of the cab and moved toward the brush cutter. He was hit by the rotating cutting head and killed.

A manager finally noticed that Mr. Gaydeski’s car was still in the parking lot of the main office long after closing, drove to the worksite and discovered the body.

L&I is citing DNR for:
• Not having written procedures specifically dealing with the task of operating the brush cutter and excavator. Workplace safety rules for logging require an Accident Prevention Program that includes written procedures for identifying hazards related with the operation of logging equipment, such as the brush cutter Mr. Gaydeski was using.

• Failing to have specific procedures in place for shutting down the Cat excavator and brush cutter to prevent accidental start-up.

• Not making sure employees are trained and understand the proper way to use the logging equipment. Inspectors interviewing other workers found it was common to leave the cutting disc rotating when investigating any unusual sounds from the equipment.

• Having no process for employees working in the woods to check-in at the end of the day. At the start of their shifts, employees said where they would be working, but there was no plan for having them report to their supervisors upon return.

L&I is required to inspect state and local government worksites and investigate workplace deaths involving state and local government employees just as they do with private employers.

DOC will have 15 business days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund for workers and families of those who have died on the job.