WHITE PLAINS — CSEA’s demand for accountability following Orange County Unit member Tonny Teskera’s workplace death has led to further citations for Teskera’s employer.
CSEA officials met with state Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau (PESH) staff in December to request additional citations because of management’s failure to properly train workers and provide them personal protective equipment.
The added citations are on top of violations PESH imposed in October following its own investigation.
Teskera, 38, died April 1, 2015, after being hit by a tree limb while working as part of a tree trimming crew at the Hickory Hill Golf Course in Warwick.
An initial PESH investigation resulted in the county receiving seven citations related to workers’ lack of training in logging operations and lack of personal protective equipment, but CSEA leaders felt the citations given didn’t do enough to address Teskera’s death and prevent another needless tragedy.
“What we kept hearing from the county after Tonny’s death was that this was simply a terrible accident, but as union activists we know that such workplace tragedies are almost always preventable,” said Orange County Local President Sabina Shapiro. “We had to speak up and insist that our remaining concerns be addressed because we can’t allow management to become complacent on workplace safety. This death was preventable and no other families should have to endure the tragedy the Teskera family has faced.”
Shapiro said that while CSEA was successful in advocating for additional PESH citations that will force management to better train and equip workers, she still has remaining concerns she’d like addressed through labor-management talks.
Those concerns include a more comprehensive work zone setup including advance warning signs for motorists, an issue brought to light when CSEA learned Teskera and his co-workers were working in an active public road with no work zone projections other than the amber lights atop county trucks.
— Jessica Ladlee