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LAX Contractor Fined $77K For Violations Connected To Baggage Handler’s Death

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Cesar Valenzuela was killed on the job. (credit: CBS)

Cesar Valenzuela was killed on the job. (credit: CBS)

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — LAX contractor Menzies Aviation was fined $77,250 Wednesday for three accident-related workplace safety violations found during an investigation of the death of a baggage handler.

According to a coroner’s report, 51-year-old Cesar Valenzuela died of blunt trauma on Feb. 21 after falling off the baggage cart he was driving. Hypertrophic heart disease was listed as a contributing factor, but the report said it was not directly related to his death.

The luggage-moving cart had a non-functioning seatbelt.

Cal/OSHA investigators determined Menzies’ safety policy did not require seat belts and discouraged use of safety belts in parts of the airport.

“This fatality could have been prevented with a well thought out and implemented safety plan, as is required for all worksites in California, said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which includes the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Valenzuela was found with his head pinned underneath one of the tires. Cal/OSHA investigators determined part of the seat belt was missing.

California safety regulations require a restraint system on tow tractors and industrial trucks. Menzies’ vehicle inspection procedures also were found to be inadequate.

Cal/OSHA investigators said numerous employees were seen driving tugs or tow tractors without seat belts or other restraints. The contractor, based in Scotland, had a written policy that required workers to use seat belts only when traveling on marked roadways — not airport services roads.

Menzies Aviation inaccurately reported the fatal accident to Cal/OSHA as a heart attack, which resulted in a citation for a regulatory violation, according to the agency.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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