A recent article from Huffington Post features a commentary from a labor union president arguing that safety violations resulting in the death of workers should be punishable by prison time instead of mere fines, as if often the case. Every 12 days, a member of his union or one of their coworkers is killed in a workplace accident. This, he says, has been the status quo for a long time.
The deaths he is talking about are not only preventable, but quite horrific. He discusses how workers are crushed by heavy equipment, drowned in vats of toxic chemicals or even burned to death. After these deaths occur, they will happen again and again to other workers, and this is what he is trying to stop.
In one case, a worker was killed when a trench at a construction site collapsed. After he died, there was an investigation conducted, and it was determined that the managers and supervisors took a lot of shortcuts to save money and did not employ readily available and legally required methods to prevent these types of trenches from collapsing. In other words, as is often the case, a death could have been prevented, but it was not prevented because a company was allegedly far more interested in saving money than in doing everything they can to make sure their workers survive the day and go home to their respective families after a shift.
While a law that passed in 2003 made it possible for federal prosecutors to ask a judge to send the guilty party to prison, instead, in this case, they allowed the defendant to plead guilty and pay a $50,000 fine and avoid being locked up for even a single day. This is what the author of this article says should not be allowed to happen. As he argues, if company owners realistically faced jail rather than the chance of having to a pay a relatively modest fine, they might take worker safety more seriously.
While there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of workers’ safety and the administrative response, one thing to keep in mind as our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, is that an injured or even diseased worker’s right to workers’ compensation benefits is not tied to any liability on behalf of the employer. It should be noted that if a worker is killed on the job instead of being injured, it is still a workers’ compensation case. However, in this situation, it is called a workers’ compensation death benefits case, and the injured worker’s family will be entitled to the benefits.
The reason the company’s liability is not at issue is because the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts was set up as no-fault system. This means that it is only necessary to prove that the worker was injured on the job and that he or she is an employee within the meaning of the statute.
If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
The Price For Killing Workers Must Be Prison, April 24, 2017, By Leo W. Gerard, Huffing Post
More Blog Entries:
HVAC Worker in Worcester Dies in Fall Accident, Feb. 13, 2017, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog