Morgan & Justice Co., LPA
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Death benefits may assist surviving family of deceased worker

The owners of a tree-trimming operation in Ohio ignored known dangers and thereby caused the death of one of their workers in another state. This was determined by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration following a June incident involving the rollover of a utility task vehicle. The family that lost their loved one in this workplace accident will now have to rely on workers' compensation death benefits to assist them in settling end-of-life expenses.

OSHA reported that the worker was trimming away vegetation and trees from electricity transmission lines. At the same time, a UTV was being used on an inclined slope of 20 degrees. The operating instructions for the vehicle stipulate that there is a rollover danger if it is used at an angle exceeding 15 degrees. As should have been anticipated, the UTV rolled over onto the tree trimmer. The 21-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries.

It was determined that the company had disregarded the safety of its workers and committed an intentional safety violation that led to the preventable death of this worker. A similar incident happened in July 2012, and OSHA says the company should have learned from that incident and was guilty of willfully allowing a second incident to occur. All workers should be able to perform their duties in workplace environments that are free of injury hazards.

Ohio families that have lost loved ones in fatal workplace accidents may face financial hardships while mourning their losses. Fortunately, the object of the workers' compensation insurance fund is to provide financial aid to injured workers and families that have lost loved ones. Death benefits will assist families with settling end-of-life expenses and may include a financial package to assist the spouses of those who were married, along with others who were depending on the worker's wages.

Source: wfmj.com, "OSHA cites Kent tree trimming service for death of employee", Dec. 24, 2014

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