Criminal Trial Ordered for Digital Pre-Press International Execs in Death of Worker

SAN FRANCISCO—Dec. 28, 2011—Following three weeks of testimony at a preliminary hearing, Judge Newton Lam ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold the defendants to answer on criminal charges filed in connection with the death of a pregnant worker who was crushed by a machine at her job on Jan. 29, 2008.

Sanjay Sakhuja (53), owner and CEO, and Alick Yeung (51), pressroom manager, of Pre-Press International [doing business as Digital Pre-Press International (DPI)], have been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and felony violation of the Labor Code [Labor Code section 6425(a)], a willful violation of a CAL/OSHA regulation causing death or permanent injury. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 19, 2012.

(According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the men could face up to four years in prison and $250,000 in fines, while the company could be fined up to $1.5 million.”)

Margarita Mojica, an employee of DPI, a printing plant located in the Potrero Hill Area of San Francisco, was crushed to death by a creasing and cutting machine while preparing the machine for a job. She was 26 and pregnant at the time of her death.

Mojica was crushed by the machine—which operated in the manner of a giant, mechanized clamshell—when it suddenly activated as she was reaching her upper body into the machine to set up a job.

According to the charges, workers at DPI were not trained on safety procedures including turning off the machine’s power before reaching into the equipment to set up creasing and cutting jobs. The complaint also charges that the machine that crushed Mojica lacked required safety devices.

“Employers bear the responsibility for providing safe and healthy conditions for their workers. By its ruling, the court found that there was sufficient evidence supporting the charges that the defendants violated worker safety laws and thereby caused the unfortunate death of Margarita Mojica,” said District Attorney George Gascón.

The California Administrative Code [Title 8, section 3314] requires that a machine must be “locked out” during setting up operations if the unexpected energization or start of the machine could cause injury to an employee. “Lock-out” under this regulation means that power to the machine must be turned off and that the power switch must be locked in the off position.

The accident was investigated by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco office of Cal/OSHA. Max Peltz is the Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case.

Source: San Francisco District Attorney.