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Workplace Fatalities Remembered on “Workers’ Memorial Day”

May 1 is known as a day to celebrate working people around the world. Some groups also use the day to remember those who suffered from workplace fatality accidents. A report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that twelve workers suffer workplace fatality incidents in an average day. Many workplace fatality lawsuits allege that these fatal accidents occur due to employer negligence or failure to comply with federal worker safety regulations.

Are Workplace Fatalities A Common Occurrence?

A study from the U.S. Occupational Safety Health Administration found that an average of three million people suffer workplace injuries every year. While some injuries are relatively minor, others can result in a workplace fatality. With an average of twelve workplace fatalities per day, and 250 work days in the average year, the annual total comes out to nearly 3,000 worker deaths each year. Some occupations, such as electric power lineman, factory worker and timber harvester, have higher rates of workplace fatalities than other jobs.

OSHA Reporting Requirements for Workplace Fatalities

Ohio resident Shaun Houle lost his father to a workplace fatality accident in May 2011. Mr. Houle’s father, Raymond, died from electrocution as the age of 53 when he worked on an underground power line. The younger Mr. Houle began researching how workplace fatality incidents were reported. He found that some industries, such as mining and truck driving, do not report worker injuries to OSHA, so the injury rates in these industries were not included in the recent OSHA report.

Do Employers Under-Report Workplace Fatalities?

Mr. Houle told local reporters about his findings. He stated that, in the industries not covered by OSHA reporting regulations, the agency “doesn’t even hear about the (workplace fatality) accidents.” He also stated his believe that some companies may consider paying an OSHA fine in a workplace fatality or injury case as a business expense, rather than a punishment from a federal agency. He told reporters that “it’s cheaper to pay up to $7,000 per offense in fines…than it would be to spend a lot more on training and implementing safety procedures.”

Houle Files Workplace Fatality Lawsuit

The estate of Raymond Houle filed a workplace fatality lawsuit against the electric company, FirstEnergy Corp. The workplace fatality suit alleges that the company’s safety regulations resulted in Mr. Houle’s death. The younger Mr. Houle contends that his father was on a “routine job” and that “there’s no reason” the fatal accident should have occurred. OSHA officials fined the company $21,000 for failing to check that the electrical cables were powered off before Mr. Houle came into contact with the fatal dose of electricity.

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Know Your Rights in a Workplace Fatality Lawsuit

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