Massachusetts Worker Chemical Exposure Death Toll Decreasing

Many workers are required to spend much of their day with potentially dangerous chemicals. While this is obviously true with an employee who works at a hazardous waste facility, it is also true of many workers who work at a big box store.

nitrogen-1484310For example, a big box store that sells pool chemicals has to specifically train workers to be very careful around chemical spills and to avoid mixing certain chemicals together in the event of an accidental spill at is could result in toxic gas or a fire. However, despite the best preventative measures, there are still many accidents due to chemical exposure each year suffered by employees around the nation. 

Fortunately, according to a recent news feature from the Boston Globe, the number of chemical exposure deaths in the workplace are getting fewer each year. Unfortunately, these deaths deaths still do occur, and as recently as as last week, a worker was killed due to chemical exposure in South Boston.

In this recent worker death in South Boston, the employee was working at seafood processing plant when he was exposed to deadly chemicals and did not survive the exposure. In this case, the hazardous chemical was a high concentration of gaseous ammonia.  While there has been no finding of liability associated with this particular incident, inspectors did say this same employer was cited for 15 serious worker safety violations in the past year or so. While this is clearly a tragedy that should never have occurred, Massachusetts ranks above average in terms of worker safety involving hazardous chemicals exposure.

One thing that is important to keep in mind is that in the context of a workers’ compensation claim, it is not necessary to prove any fault on behalf of the employer. This is because workers’ compensation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a no fault system.   This means that all that is necessary is to prove that the worker is a statutory employee within the meaning of the workers’ compensation act, and the injury or illness was occurred on the job or was related to the employee’s work.

It is also important to understand that in the case of a fatal workplace accident, workers’ compensation is still the appropriate remedy in most cases. However, instead of the worker personally submitting a claim, it will be the worker’s family who can file the claim in the name of his or her estate.

In a death benefits workers’ compensation case in Boston, the family should be entitled to funeral expenses, any medical bills related to the final illness or injury, and lost wages.  While there is no way to claim pain and suffering like in a traditional personal injury claim in most cases, the lost wages portion of the benefits award can be substantial.

This means that a family may be entitled to the money employee would have earned over many years to come had it not been for the fatal workplace accident.   It should be noted that an employer may challenge this claim and you should speak with your experienced workers’ compensation attorney about the facts of your particular case.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Chemical exposure deaths on the job getting rarer, March 24, 2016, The Boston Globe, By Matt Rocheleau

More Blog Entries:
Elevator Mechanic Killed when Falling Down Shaft, Jan. 24, 2015, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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