California Sawmill Injury Lawsuit: Sierra Pacific Industries Pressure Vessel Explosion Kills One, Injures Another

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) issued multiple citations for the Sierra Pacific Industries worker death that occurred after a Sierra Pacific sawmill worker was killed when a pipeline on an air compressor exploded. The agency is seeking $108,300 in fines. On September 17, an employee working for Sierra Pacific Industries in Lincoln California was setting up a Quincy 300 Compressor when a pipeline on the air compressor exploded. Pieces of the pipeline hit two employees nearby, injuring one and killing another. Sierra Pacific is a lumber company which operates 14 sawmills in California and Washington.

Citations were issued to Sierra Pacific for its failure to:

  • Test the discharge piping to ensure a proper connection before operating the Quincy 300 compressor.
  • Ensure a pressure-relieving safety device was installed in the line between the compressor and block valve.
  • Ensure all pressure piping for the compressor was designed and fitted in accordance with good engineering practice.

The agency also cited the employer for serious violations for failure to ensure that energy within the pipeline system was controlled to prevent release during repair and failure to ensure group lockout/tagout procedures were utilized and employees worked under supervision of a qualified person.

Like the federal control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) standard, the California standard requires employers to de-energize or disengage machinery when it is being cleaned, maintained, or serviced to prevent accidental start-up. Equipment must be locked out or sealed in the off position before work begins. Locked-out equipment must be tagged to warn employees against operating it.


Sawmill injuries are usually serious and involve grievous injury or even death. The price of lumber has tripled in the last year, leading to increased production pressures. The increased pressure to produce often comes at the expense of worker safety. If you have been injured on the job, call an experienced work injury lawyer to learn about your options. 888-353-5995. Or, send a confidential e-mail to




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