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California uses "digital stories" to help prevent fatal accidents

Antonio Barajas, a 33-year-old tree trimmer, died at work when he was thrown against a wood chipper. Hans Petersen, a 30-year-old solar panel installer, died on the job when he fell off an apartment building roof.

Both tragedies, along with recommendations on preventing similar incidents from occurring, are the subject of award-winning “digital stories” featured on a new California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program web page.

The FACE program investigates work-related fatalities to identify the causes and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. 

“In an ongoing effort to use what we learn in our investigations to prevent workers from injury and death, the program is sharing workers’ compelling stories in a new format – the Digital Story,” according to the FACE website. “These stories combine photographs and prevention recommendations from FACE fatality investigation reports with re-creations of the fatal event, personal narration, and family photos. Viewers visit the scene of the incident and see work hazards up close.”

FACE says the stories are best used as “educational triggers” that can kick off a worker training session and facilitate discussion. The videos, which are available in both English and Spanish, can be viewed on YouTube or downloaded for future use. Each digital story has its own “action page,” which provides discussion questions and fact sheets for training and education, a link to the corresponding FACE investigation report, and video download instructions.

A video entitled “Preventing Wood Chipper Fatalities” explains how Barajas, the tree trimmer, was killed and discusses what can be done to prevent a similar accident from happening to someone else.

Preventing falls in the solar industry,” ( produced by FACE staff member Laura Styles, recently won an American Public Health Association, Occupational Health Section, Digital Technology Award.

Click here to visit California’s FACE program digital stories page.

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