58-year-old Ricky Salter was reportedly killed while working at the International Paper Co. Sunday, August 31, 2014.
According to media reports, Mr. Salter was working at the West Lathrop Avenue paper mill on Sunday when the fatal accident occurred. Sadly, Mr. Salter perished at the scene.
Media accounts of the accident cause and location are conflicting. Police spokeswoman Julian Miller reportedly told The Augusta Chronicle that the accident occurred “in or around an elevator.” Mill spokeswoman, Karen Bogans, apparently told The Savannah Morning News that the incident occurred “in the paper roll handling area of the mill and that the cause of death has not been determined.”
In an email statement to media, Ms. Bogans reportedly announced, “Ricky was a valued and respected member of our Savannah team and was an employee at our mill for more than two years. We are deeply saddened by the death of our team member and friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ricky’s family and friends.”
The mill is allegedly conducting a full investigation into the accident and told media that the appropriate agencies have been notified.
Our Legal Take
Advocates for employee rights at The Murray Law Firm are following the accident closely and question whether an unbiased investigation will be performed on behalf of Mr. Salter’s family.
Was the facility in line with OSHA paper mill safety requirements? When was the machinery and area around the accident last inspected?
Was the accident a consequence of a mechanical malfunction or a lack of facility safety measures? What emergency safety precautions, such as an emergency stop, safety rail and motion sensor, were available to Mr. Salter at the time of the accident?
Police and company accounts of the accident appear to be conflicting per media reports. The mill is apparently conducting a full investigation into the accident. Will this company investigation damage or destroy evidence needed for a thorough OSHA investigation? Will an unbiased, third party investigation be performed on behalf of the Salter family before evidence is repaired, damaged or destroyed?
As Ricky Salter was working at the time of his death, his family is almost certainly entitled to substantial workers’ compensation benefits per Georgia law. Additional claims may also be filed should a mechanical malfunction or improper safety inspection have contributed to this tragedy. Claims of this magnitude will serve as a grave reminder to International Paper and other southeast paper mills on the need to make employee safety their first priority. By demanding companies implement proper safety precautions, many other lives may be spared.
Photographs and a thorough, unbiased inspection of the facility will need to be performed on the family’s behalf without delay to ensure all evidence is preserved and their best interests are protected. Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies are often more concerned with limiting their own financial exposure than protecting victims and their families. As such, having an experienced workers’ compensation firm to handle such negotiations can often mean the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Murray Law Firm works tirelessly to protect victims and families devastated by catastrophic work accidents and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 912.385.9690. Consultations are free and confidential.