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Colorado Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

2 of 3 injured workers survive accident at Colorado fracking site

Numerous states, including Colorado, are involved in "fracking," which is a procedure for harvesting oil and gas that is considered highly controversial. A recent accident at one such site approximately 30 miles north of Denver resulted in three injured workers. Two of them survived, but one worker's injuries were fatal, and he or she died at the scene. One of the surviving individuals required surgery for the injuries he or she suffered.

Fracking involves water and chemicals that are mixed with sand and gravel. The resulting mixture is injected into a well with high amounts of pressure. The process is designed to break open rock formations beneath the surface. It is controversial because it may cause earthquakes and the leaching of chemicals into the water supply.

OSHA says workers' rights violated by poultry producer

Every Colorado employee has the right to a safe workplace. When a company violates its workers' rights to be safe in the course of their duties, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration often steps in and conducts an investigation to identify problem areas the company needs to correct. Such an investigation was recently conducted at an out-of-state poultry producer after a complaint was filed.

It was determined that the company was not only putting the lives of its workers at risk, but was also dissuading them from seeking medical treatment for their injuries. Employees were exposed to fall hazards, exposed machinery parts and other dangers. When a worker did suffer an injury, the United States' sixth largest poultry producer -- Wayne Farms -- failed to properly document it.

Corrections officers can suffer a permanent disability at work

Working in a Colorado correctional institution can be dangerous work. The men and women who go "behind the wall" to protect the rest of us are tasked with maintaining order. In the performance of their duties, the potential for suffering an injury that leads to permanent disability or death is ever present.

Injuries can be suffered during anything from a fall to intervening in a fight involving inmates. With all of the potentially dangerous events that can occur in a correctional institution, even an incident that seems innocuous can result in a debilitating injury. Regardless of how the injury was suffered, recovering from it could require a significant amount of medical treatment and physical therapy.

Company violations could lead to permanent disability

Workers in Colorado warehouses and other industrial environments are exposed to numerous hazards, and the risk of injury can be high without proper safety measures in place. When a company fails to make the safety of its workers a priority, injuries could be suffered that lead to permanent disability or even death. This is one reason why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts inspections of businesses in the aftermath of such a tragedy.

OSHA investigators began an inquiry regarding an out-of-state truck terminal in March. A number of violations were discovered relating to forklift and fall hazards. Forklifts that were in need of repair were still in use, and platforms did not have the required guardrails to protect workers from falls of over four feet. Moreover, floors in the facility were not kept clean and dry.

Inhalation of asbestos can lead to permanent disability or death

Colorado workers in certain industries seem to have the highest risk of asbestos exposure -- construction workers, mechanics and those who repair ships. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that no level of exposure to this naturally occurring substance is considered safe. Inhalation can ultimately result in permanent disability or death. 

The difficulty with asbestos is that the fibers are so small, they are not seen with the naked eye. A worker can inhale them without even realizing it. The dangers associated with inhaling these fibers are from scar tissue that builds up in the lungs, lung cancer and a disease called mesothelioma (which attacks the lining of the stomach or lungs). 

Workers' compensation death benefits in Colorado

Workers' compensation benefits can provide financial assistance when an employee is injured and may also be needed by an employee's surviving family when a person loses their life from a work related accident. A family may rely on the income of a loved one and suffer if that person is killed while on the job. Some people may look to professional help when attempting to collect workers' compensation benefits on behalf of a deceased loved one. A middle aged woman recently lost her life at a Colorado work site when she was crushed between two rail cars.

The victim and other employees of the local construction company were responsible for the operation and movement of flatbed railroad cars in connection with the operation of their place of employment. The cars carried materials created and used by the framing company that were either being loaded or unloaded from the business. The afternoon accident took place while the woman and coworkers completed their work duties.

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