When workers report for duty each day, they probably don’t think that it could be their last. If an employee dies from an accident while on the job, it may be because of something his or her employer did or failed to do. The worker’s family may be devastated emotionally and financially, due to the loss of income, necessitating workers’ compensation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration exists to guide both companies and their employees on best practices to keep workers safe so that filing for compensation isn’t necessary, but an OSHA investigation can also give grieving North Carolina families a guideline to determine what action to take. Late last year, a fatal fuel tank explosion out of state resulted in fines for one company after OSHA submit its initial report on the incident.
The accident happened late last year, but OSHA only recently filed the results of its inspection. A worker was draining brine water as part of cleaning a gasoline storage tank. He was using a drill for the process which presumably generated a spark that ignited gas vapors. The resulting fire ended in an explosion that cost the worker his life. Local first responders had to close off traffic from the area around the site and a hazardous materials team had to be brought in.
OSHA found that the worker’s company commit numerous serious violations and fined the company $204,000. The OSHA inspection is actually ongoing, meaning the company could be facing more fines. Once the investigation is finished, the company will have the opportunity to contest the findings, pay the fine or request a meeting with OSHA representatives.
Whatever the outcome of OSHA’s investigation may be, the family of the victim may be able to file for workers’ compensation on his behalf. Workers’ comp is not just a benefit for a surviving employee, but survivors’ benefits can be paid to the employee’s family in the case of death. Those here in North Carolina who are uncertain of the exact parameters and what the process may entail could speak to an attorney about their options for legal recourse.