After a death on-the-job, families of employees should get workers’ comp death benefits. An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can provide help in making a death benefits claim so family members aren’t left with financial struggles when a breadwinner is no longer there to bring in income.
There are also questions about what else should happen after a workplace fatality. For example, recently, an article was published recently in which a University of Maryland law professor argued that executives and companies should sometimes face criminal punishment for a workplace fatality. While this currently happens on very limited occasions, if more prosecutions happened it is possible that more fatalities could be prevented.
Criminal Consequences After Atlanta Workplace Fatalities
According to the recent article, “prosecutions are rare” against executives and companies after workplace fatalities, even when an employer ignores important workplace safety regulations. Prosecutions aren’t common in part because prosecutors and police tend to think of fatalities on-the-job as just unpreventable accidents. All too often, however, this is not the case.
One example, for example, involved a 21-year-old who was working at an alcohol bottling facility. He watched a brief safety video on his first day and was put to work 15 minutes after arriving, despite the fact that he should have received comprehensive safety training. A malfunctioning machine that day caused bottles to break and the new employee was underneath the machine to try to pick up the broken glass. Tragically, the machine started back up again and the man was crushed to death.
The company was fined $110,000 by OSHA, and the staffing agency which had sent the young man to work at the facility faced no consequences at all. No criminal charges were brought against anyone, despite the fact the young man’s death could be directly traced back to the fact that a conscious choice was made not to provide him with adequate training. The lack of training was a direct cause of his death.
With more than 4,600 workers killed each year on average, there are a lot of situations like this one where employers knowingly cut corners, often violating established safety rules, because saving money is more important to them than saving lives.
Workers rights groups are leading the charge to try to ensure that more of these companies and more of their CEO’s are held accountable. The Center for Progressive Reform has even released a new manual that groups nationwide can use to try to encourage prosecutors and police to investigate and bring charges in appropriate circumstances.
While hopefully some efforts to improve accountability will lead to more prosecutions, and thus more workplace safety efforts, there is certainly no guarantee that more criminal prosecutions are coming any time soon. Regardless, employees need to know their rights and families of workers who are killed need to get help making a workers’ comp death benefits claim.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.