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Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Blog

'COPS' not cited by OSHA after employee fatally injured at work

Colorado fans of the reality television show "COPS" already know that a film crew follows law enforcement officers from different parts of the country while they answer real calls. Since officers are dealing with live, unscripted situations, that crew is routinely put in harm's way right along with the officers with whom they ride. One film crew shooting footage last summer suffered a tragedy when a sound technician was fatally injured at work.

The officers the crew was riding with responded to a Wendy's fast food restaurant where an armed robbery was in progress. The would-be robber pointed and fired what later turned out to be an air-pistol at the officers. When police fired back, the sound technician was caught in the cross-fire and hit by a bullet. Emergency personnel rushed him to an area hospital, but he later died.

Death benefits may be available to family of deceased worker

Losing a loved one in a work-related accident affects every aspect of the lives of surviving family members. Even as a Colorado family grieves for their loss, their minds may turn to the financial impact of his or her death. Fortunately, death benefits may be available from the state's workers' compensation system, which may include a compensation package for the loss of the deceased worker's income and money to help with the burial and funeral.

An out-of-state man's family may have already applied for such benefits after he was killed by a piece of machinery in the factory where he worked. An investigation conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed that the machine was set to automatic by a supervisor since it was not in use while the employees who worked with it were at lunch. Not knowing the machine was not in "locked out" mode, the victim reached into the press to retrieve some aluminum parts that had not been processed.

Preventing injured workers during Colorado's winter weather

Colorado may be about half way through the winter months, but there will be plenty more cold days before Spring. For anyone who works outside, the cold is more than just an inconvenience -- it is a serious hazard. Companies need to take additional precautions in cold weather in order to prevent injured workers.

Hypothermia, trench foot and frostbite are the three most common cold-related conditions outdoor workers can contract. Hypothermia can occur when a worker's body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If a worker's feet are consistently wet and cold, he or she can develop trench foot. Frostbite occurs when skin and tissue freeze -- often in extremely cold conditions.

Hospital staff are at risk for becoming injured at work

Not only doctors, but nurses and other staff who have direct contact with patients are at risk of contracting a serious or deadly illness. Hospital staff members who are tasked with cleaning rooms and doing the laundry are sometimes at greater risk of becoming injured at work. Most Colorado medical facilities ensure that safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of staff contracting a disease or illness under these circumstances, but not every medical facility does.

One hospital on the East Coast is currently facing fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration because its safety practices are woefully inadequate. The hospital reportedly changed from linen laundry bags to plastic ones that often break. When that happens, staff members are required to gather the bag contents and put them into a new bag.

What are employers supposed to do to prevent injured workers?

Every Colorado employee deserves a workplace free from dangerous conditions. It is the employer's responsibility to provide such a workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency, sets out rules and regulations designed to prevent injured workers in every industry.

Employers across the nation -- and here in Colorado -- in every industry are required to meet certain safety standards set forth by OSHA. Companies create policies and procedures regarding safety practices unique to their industries. Workers are then to be trained regarding the proper procedures and provided safety equipment needed to increase the likelihood of not being injured. All equipment and tools used by workers are to be periodically inspected and properly maintained.

Worker dies despite receiving medical treatment for his injuries

Colorado workers leave their families to go to work with the expectation of going home to them at the end of the workday. Sometimes, however, workplace accidents prevent that from happening. For example, a father, grandfather and friend is being mourned by his community. Recently, he suffered injuries in an on-the-job accident. Despite receiving medical treatment, he succumbed to those injuries.

The victim was a maintenance worker who could reportedly fix anything. He was at work installing light fixtures when the accident occurred. He stood on an aerial platform suspended between 20 and 30 feet off the ground when a piece of equipment struck the platform. The impact caused the man to fall off the platform. Someone who worked with him for years knew him to be meticulous about using safety equipment and now questions what could have caused the victim to fall.

Medical treatment was not enough to save worker's life

Colorado employers are required to incorporate safety measures prescribed by law in order to protect workers from harm. If a company fails to provide at least the minimum safety equipment and training, workers can easily suffer a variety of injuries that require medical treatment and range from minor to fatal. Of course, even if a company does everything right, the potential for an accident still exists, but the likelihood is presumed to be reduced.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited an out-of-state company for several violations that put workers in jeopardy of being injured or killed. The investigation was prompted by the death of a worker. Another employee working with him was injured but survived.

Injured workers plunged 20 feet at construction site

Of all the hazards facing construction workers here in Colorado and around the country, falling is often touted as being one of the most common dangers that leads to injury or death. Sometimes, when work is being done at an existing business, the business' employees could be victims of the same hazards. For example, five people on the West Coast recently plunged 20 feet at a construction site at a casino. Reports do not indicate whether the injured workers were construction company employees or casino employees.

The casino is undergoing renovations. At approximately 3:15 p.m., local firefighters were called to the scene. They found five people who had suffered a wide variety of injuries, which ranged from minor to moderate. All of them were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Few details regarding the circumstances that led to the accident are currently available, along with the identity of the victims. 

19 workers needed medical treatment for CO exposure

Colorado industrial workers may have heard about a carbon monoxide leak at a facility in a nearby state that sent 19 people to the hospital. They all required medical treatment for exposure to the toxic gas, which entails giving them 100 percent oxygen. As the workers recover, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will conduct an investigation into the source of the workers' exposure.

The investigation will determine whether all of the equipment was properly maintained and inspected at regular intervals. It will also focus on the 19 individuals who were exposed. An OSHA representative indicated that carbon monoxide exposure generally occurs when equipment powered by propane is used in an enclosed area without proper ventilation. Investigators have six months to issue a report.

Citations issued after man fatally injured at work

It is not just Colorado industrial workers who spend their days near large, dangerous equipment that have to worry about being injured. Those with seemingly safe jobs in comparison also face hazards every day. For instance, a man doing some cleaning outside a meat processing plant in another state was fatally injured at work.

It was after dark, and a car hit him with enough force to cause his death. When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted its investigation into the tragedy, it determined that the worker had not been given high-visibility clothing to wear. Such protective gear is required for employees who work in low lit areas where moving vehicles are commonplace.

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