The U.S. Department of Labor says De Coninck Vineyards in American Canyon should be fined $38,000 for violations after the death of a Napa field worker in October.
Leon Marcelo Lua, 49, was killed after he tried to unclog a grape harvester by reaching into a rotating shaft, according to the federal Labor Department and Napa County Sheriff’s Office. The shaft caught his sweatshirt and he died when he was pulled into the machine. A colleague turned the machine off and tried to render aid to him, but his body went limp after a few seconds, according to OSHA records.
Lua was a 24-year veteran of the company and had been on the clock for 10 hours before his death, according to OSHA.
The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a total of five violations in late April against De Coninck Vineyards, including three that were classified as serious.
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De Coninck Vineyards operates as Beaucanon Estate.
De Coninck Vineyards contested the violations earlier this month. John Bailey, an attorney with Salinas-based Alternative Dispute Resolution, said he filed the appeal on behalf of De Coninck Vineyards, but declined to elaborate and pointed to the public record of the appeal.
That document was not immediately available because it was on hold pending an OSHA investigation and also had to be requested under the state’s public records law.
Among the more serious violations issued included one for failing to guard a revolving shaft, and another for failing to turn off an engine before trying to unclog, clean or otherwise service a piece of equipment, according to OSHA’s website. Both violations carry a penalty of $15,750.
The third serious violation, which carries a fine of $5,060, is for not having a program to prevent injury and illness, according to OSHA.
The other two violations were for failing to have a plan to prevent heat illness and failing to provide effective training about heat illness. Both carry a fine of $560.
This was the second wine industry death in Napa County investigated by government safety agencies over the past two years.
In May 2017, an employee of a refrigeration contractor died when he fell through a fiberglass light panel on the roof of a refrigeration building at Sutter Home Winery, 100 Main St., St. Helena.
Cal/OSHA proposed penalties of more than $100,000 against the contractor and the winery for safety deficiencies. Both Sutter Home and the refrigeration company, Applied Process Cooling Corporation, filed appeals.