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Colorado company fined in worker death, workman's comp possible

When an employee passes away while on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will normally investigate the incident. OSHA attempts to determine whether the employer violated any of OSHA's safety regulations in a manner that might have resulted in the worker's death. Often, a workman's comp claim for death benefits is also available to the deceased worker's surviving family. This is the case for one Colorado-based company after one of its employees died at one of its out-of-state factories, as OSHA representatives have levied additional fines to their original assessment.

The company in this story -- the Western Sugar Cooperative -- produces sugar at multiple factories around the country. Earlier this year, an employee fell to his death through an opening in the floor above a processing pit. OSHA investigated not long after the incident and cited Western Sugar with several violations related to safety violations. A follow-up investigation a short time later apparently revealed even more violations, totaling almost 40. The proposed fines against them now equal nearly a quarter of $1 million.

OSHA decided to investigate another plant belonging to Western Sugar in the same sate. Reportedly, it was found to have several safety violations as well. The company will have to decide whether to comply and pay the fines, challenge the ruling or meet with OSHA representatives in an attempt to resolve the safety issues. Western Sugar reiterated its commitment to keeping employees safe after the first citations were issued, but has offered no new comment on these newest findings.

Employees should be able to go to work in an environment that is free from hazards and where the employer has their best interests in mind. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Colorado employees who have been hurt on the job can choose to file for workman's comp to compensate for their lost wages or cover expenses they may incur from injury. This option is also available to families who lose loved ones in workplace accidents.

Source: lovellchronicle.com, "OSHA issues more fines against Western Sugar after investigation", , July 24, 2014

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Eley Law Firm
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