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Santa Fe settles with state over worker’s death

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The City of Santa Fe and New Mexico Environment Department reached a settlement concerning the death of Tobin “Toby” Williams, a city employee who died in April 2019 after being electrocuted.

According to the settlement, the city will pay citations totaling $120,000, over half of which go toward training and safety improvements that must be completed within six months.

The settlement comes nearly a year after Williams was electrocuted while attempting to replace a light fixture at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. He had no electrician training.

An investigation launched by the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau found in September 2019 that the city had committed multiple violations by having untrained workers replace electrical equipment, the settlement states.

The bureau had originally fined the city more than $183,000 for these citations, seven of which the department vacated, department spokesperson Maddy Hayden wrote in an official statement.

“When accidents like these happen, it is critical that employers take action to protect worker safety in the future,” she wrote. “The measures included in the settlement are intended to do that.”

Lee Hunt, a lawyer representing Williams’ family, said the settlement does not do enough to hold the city accountable.

“I think it’s fair to say the city’s getting off easy, considering the consequences to the Williams family,” he said.

No lawsuit has yet been filed on behalf of the family for William’s death. Hunt said the family was waiting for the results of the settlement before deciding whether to proceed with formal litigation and that he needs to investigate the death further.

City spokeswoman Lilia Chacon said she could not comment on the settlement because it is not official until 20 days after signing on April 1.

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