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Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

OSHA completes investigation after man fatally injured at work

One of the duties of investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to conduct an investigation after a workplace fatality. OSHA generally has up to six months to determine whether citations need to be issued and fines need to be assessed against the company where the worker died. One such investigation was recently completed at Colorado-based meatpacking company, JBS USA, after a worker was fatally injured at work.

Reports indicate that, on June 10, 2014, a 54-year-old maintenance technician was working near a conveyor belt that was not properly guarded. Somehow, the technician's hair became entangled in the belt, which caused him to be dragged into the machinery. He ultimately died as a result of the injuries he suffered.

Woman fatally injured at work at company based in Denver

The Western Sugar Cooperative is based in Denver, but is a cooperative with members in four states. Since 2008, employees with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have conducted approximately 16 inspections of some of the company's locations and found 30 violations. When a worker was fatally injured at work in one of the company's processing plants, an investigation revealed 12 violations, which resulted in citations being issued and fines in the amount of $44,500, which the company reportedly agreed to pay.

The accident occurred in Jan. 2014. There was reportedly a floor panel left out of place through which a 28-year-old woman fell. She suffered fatal injuries when she fell through the open grate in the floor into some equipment used in beet processing.

Winter weather can lead to injured workers

Now that the weather has turned colder, workers and their employers may need to prepare for it. Anyone who works outdoors knows that the Colorado winters can be harsh. Cold temperatures, snow and wind can create a perfect storm of slippery roads and frigid working conditions. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, taking the appropriate precautions to prevent injured workers is necessary.

The main enemy for outdoor workers in the winter is cold stress. This occurs when skin temperature drops, which can lead to a worker's internal body temperature dropping to dangerous levels. This leads to conditions such as hypothermia, trench foot and frostbite. Aside from more permanent damage and death, a worker can contract any number of illnesses associated with the cold.

Man fatally injured at work, OSHA investigating

As would be the case anywhere else in the country, Colorado companies are required to provide their employees with a safe work environment. This includes providing safety equipment and training on how to use it properly. Otherwise, an employer could be seriously or fatally injured at work.

Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began an investigation into the death of an out-of-state man who fell several feet while working. The victim was installing insulation on some equipment from a height of approximately 20 feet. It appears that he was wearing the required safety harness, but it has not yet been determined whether the victim was wearing it properly.

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