Poor Workplace Safety Leads to Employee Death, Large Fine

Workplace safety is critical to employers and employees.  The death of one of its employees more than a year ago has uncovered major safety violations that led to the death of an employee, as well as a major fine for one Australian employer.
 
 
Found Guilty of Failure to Maintain Safe System of Work
 
According to a report from WorkSafe Victoria, a Somerton boat company has been found guilty and fined $275,000 more than the death of a worker in December 2011.
 
Monst Pty Ltd (formerly Lloyd Brewer Marine Pty Ltd) was convicted late last month on charges relating to the death of an independent contractor, Andrew Lagana, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
 
The company, which manufactures, services and sells boats, was found guilty of failing to provide or maintain a safe system of work, and failing to provide information, instruction, training or supervision in relation to overhead obstructions and risk controls.
 
 
 
Hazard Identification Should Have Taken Place
 
Those in attendance in court heard that Lagana asked a colleague, Mr. Madin-Berry, to assist him to access a part. Madin-Berry, who was licensed to perform high risk work, was reversing a forklift when its mast became entangled in the chain of crane, moving a hoist unit and chain off a gantry. The hoist unit and chain ended up striking Lagana on the head.
 
Other workers immediately rendered assistance to Lagana and he was taken to the Alfred Hospital where he died a short time later.
 
The court was told that a hazard identification and risk assessment should have taken place in the workplace to point out specific obstacles and overhead obstructions.
 
Lastly, information, instruction and training should have been provided to employees and other persons at the workplace regarding overhead obstructions and risk controls.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

Attorney General Finds Workplace Death of 21 Year Old Unacceptable

 

 
Piece of Equipment Collapsed
 
A 21-year-old Australian man died at a worksite at Kingston July 21, when a piece of equipment that is used to pour concrete collapsed, according to Australian officials.
 
The truck involved in the accident was serviced just three weeks ago and engineers will examine the equipment. It is the fourth workplace death in the ACT since last December, and three of those have happened on construction sites.
 
 
Investigations to Take Several Months, Wake Up Call for Industry
 
ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe says investigations into the latest death will take several months.
 
"It is alarming for there to be so many injuries," McCabe said. "It is a real wake-up call for the industry I think, that this is dangerous work that they're doing and safety cannot be compromised. If anything good can come out of tragedy it is that it's bringing the industry together to talk about how this situation can be avoided in the future."
 
The ACT Government is moving to order an investigation into safety and culture on ACT worksites.
 
 
Attorney General Finds Work Place Death Unacceptable
 
Attorney-General Simon Corbell stated any death at work is unacceptable and he requests answers.
 
"We are now giving serious consideration to a broad-ranging investigation to try to understand what are the issues with workplace safety and culture in the civil and construction sector that may be contributing towards the death toll we are now seeing," Corbell commented. 
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Maximum Fine Imposed for Workers Death, Company Implements Major Safety Changes

 

Pleaded Guilty to Safety Violation

 

A potash surface mine operator in Saskatchewan has pleaded guilty to the province’s maximum fine for an occupational health and safety violation, in connection with a worker fatality two years ago, according to a report from Canadian OH&S News.

 

Edward Artic, who had worked at Agrium Inc’s Vanscoy site for more than 10 years, was inside a hoist well when a component fell from a load being lifted by an overhead crane. The device fell six stories and struck the 59-year-old worker in the head, killing him instantly.[Wcx]

 

Agrium pleaded guilty on May 28 to failing to provide or maintain a working environment that ensured, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of a worker, contrary to Section 12(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, and agreed to the maximum fine of $300,000 plus a $120,000 victim surcharge. Three other charges against Agrium were stayed.

 

Maximum Fine Sought

 

Tamara Harrison, the crown prosecutor assigned to the case, explained that a maximum fine was sought because the incident resulted in a fatality, Agrium had a previous similar conviction — in 2006 a rock fell and a worker received a serious injury — and judges specifically allow prosecutors to look at the fact that because the accused is a large, profitable company, the fine must be high enough to have a deterrent effect.

 

Agrium’s lawyer says it was important for the company to move forward out of respect for the family, adding there is a good working relationship between Agrium and the family, “who didn’t want to see this worker’s death in vain.” [Wcx]

 

The company recognized that anything you can do could be done better. There is always a constellation of factors that contribute to the cause of the accident,” and Agrium was one of those factors, says Michael Tochor of MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP, in Regina.

 

Major Reform Efforts Implemented

 

Since the incident the company has spent $3.6 million on remedial measures at the site, just southwest of Saskatoon, Tochor notes. This includes redesigning and retrofitting the entire hoist well, rewriting and reworking health and safety policies and procedures, providing financial assistance to the family and counseling for workers and constructing a memorial tribute to Artic on the site.

 

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety recently introduced amendments that would bump the maximum penalty in cases with a serious injury or death from $300,000 to $1.5 million, making them the highest in the country. The amendments would take effect this fall

 

 

<pAuthor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

When an Employee Dies

 

Note: This information is general in nature. Please consult an attorney for laws in your jurisdiction.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there were 4,547 work related deaths in 2010, compared to 4,551 in 2009, per the most currently available data. With approximately 130 million workers in the United States, the fatal accident rate is 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, per year.  (Transportation accidents are the most prevalent, accounting for approximately 40% of all work related deaths). Fortunately, employers do not have to deal with accidental deaths on a regular basis.  When an employee does die from a job related accident or occupational illness, the employer should know what to expect.
 
 
A significant portion of work-related deaths involves sudden accidents where the employee dies “instantly” or very quickly with minimal medical expenses. However, when the employee is severely injured, and survives for days/weeks/months, the medical expenses can quickly become astronomical. The workers compensation insurer has to pay all related medical expenses in the doctors/hospitals efforts to keep the employee alive, as long as the effort to keep the employee alive is for the employee’s benefit. (In a recent Georgia case the employee was pronounced brain dead upon arrival at the hospital. The employee had designated himself as an organ donor. The hospital kept him “alive” for over two hours as the employee’s organs were harvested. The medical cost of keeping the employee “alive” while his organs were removed was denied by the workers compensation insurer, as the medical cost was not for the employee’s benefit).[WCx]
 
 
Once the employee dies, the employee’s estate is entitled to a funeral benefit or burial allowance. The amount of the burial benefit varies from a low as $2,000 in Mississippi, to a high of $16,012 in Oregon (20 times the state’s average weekly wage). Kentucky does not set a cap on burial expenses, but the cost of burial is paid for by the estate out of a lump sum payment of $69,919.52 made to the estate.
 
 
When an employee dies, the spouse and child(ren) receive the indemnity benefit known as the death benefit or income benefit. The death benefit is a percentage of the employee’s wages, not to exceed the stated maximum for the state. The maximum weekly amount of the death benefit varies per jurisdiction, with the District of Columbia having the highest weekly benefit of $1,355.00. The lowest weekly benefit is $20.00 in Arkansas, Connecticut, and Florida.
 
 
States vary in how long the spouse and/or child(ren) may receive the death benefit. In the states with a maximum number of weeks an employee can draw disability benefits, the maximum number of weeks the spouse and/or child(ren) can draw the death benefit is normally the same length of time. For example, if the employee could have drawn disability benefits for 400 weeks, the spouse can draw the death benefit for 400 weeks.  In an addition to the time limit, some states cap the maximum death benefits at a specific dollar amount. For example, Michigan caps death benefits at 500 weeks or $322,000, which ever comes first.
 
 
Some states allow the spouse to draw the death benefit until the maximum number of weeks is reached, or when the spouse reaches age 65, while others require the death benefit to be paid for the spouse’s entire lifetime. Almost all states stop the death benefit upon the spouse’s remarriage. Many of those same states will require the workers comp insurer to pay the spouse the equivalent of two years of death benefits in a lump sum.
 
 
If the deceased employee has a child or children, but no spouse, the death benefit is divided among the children. If the deceased employee has both a spouse and child(ren), the death benefit is normally paid to the spouse for both the spouse and the child(ren)’s benefit. Most states do not divide the death benefit, but some do. For example, in Florida, a spouse can draw a maximum of 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage, and a child can draw 33.33% of the employee’s average weekly wage, but together they will draw 66.67% of the employee’s average weekly wage.
 
 
Children of the deceased employee can normally draw death benefits until the child reaches the age of 18, and in most states to the age of 22 if enrolled full time in a higher educational institution. The states vary in whether or not the child can draw death benefits beyond the maximum number of weeks the employee could have drawn indemnity benefits. 
 
 
The states vary in what death benefits are paid when the employee has neither spouse nor children (primary beneficiaries). Other dependents of the employee, for instance elderly dependent parents, can draw death benefits if there are no primary beneficiaries.
 
 
When the employee has no dependents of any type, the states vary in whether or not the workers comp insurer has to make any payments. Some states will require a lump sum payment be made to the state.  For instance, in Georgia, if the employee dies without any dependents, the workers comp insurer makes a $10,000 payment to the State. [WCx]
 
 
For assistance with death claims, please contact us.


 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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