The widow and children of a Colorado ski worker are facing a cruel reality. The worker, Adam Lee, was crushed to death under a ski escalator at Loveland Ski Area in December 2017. Ordinarily, the worker's dependents would be entitled to the full amount of death benefits prescribed by law, to be paid by the employer's workers' compensation company.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released its annual report on workplace fatalities and it contains some distressing news: workplace fatalities continue to their upward trend. In 2016, a total of 5,190 workers died from injuries suffered in the workplace. That's up from 4,836 fatalities in 2015, and represents an increase of 7.3 percent.
It took years of work, but with the signing of H.B. 17-1229 last month, first responders and other workers in Colorado can now get workers' compensation benefits for job-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Colorado thus joins a small number of states that recognize PTSD as a compensable work illness.
Every year, about 4,000 people are killed while working in the U.S. and about 4 million suffer injuries. To honor those who have died in workplace accidents and to underscore the need for workplace safety, the AFL-CIO established Workers' Memorial Day on April 28, 1970. Every year since then, April 28 has been designated as a day of remembrance in the U.S., and the practice has spread to at least 17 countries. By coincidence, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was established exactly one year later.
More likely to get injured + less likely to survive the accident
Here in Colorado, people come from all over the world to vacation at ski resorts. The employees who work there likely do so because they enjoy the outdoors and the non-traditional work environment. However, like any workplace, there are still safety precautions that must be taken. In the past, we have discussed the prevalence of avalanches at several Colorado ski resorts. A recent avalanche that took the life of one worker at the Wolf Creek Ski area could necessitate the filing for death benefits by the worker's family.
Many people may consider the job of a ski patrol member as exciting even though it likely poses multiple on-the-job injury hazards. In addition to having to be an excellent skier, patrol members have to cope with the unpredictability of nature on a daily basis. After a tragic accident at a ski resort in Southwestern Colorado on March 4, the owners of the resort have been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Moreover, death benefits are likely due the family of the worker killed in the fatal ski accident.
While industrial workers in Colorado likely recognize the potential dangers of their chosen profession, their families may be concerned about the safety of their loved ones whenever they are at work. Many industrial workers are the sole breadwinners for their families, and a workplace accident may lead to the loss of income. Although workers' compensation benefits may provide financial aid, families may be unsure of the availability of death benefits, and how to go about filing a claim.
Many Denver construction workers and others who work around large equipment and machinery know how dangerous their work environment can become if safety protocols are not followed at all times. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating an accident at a marina last week that resulted in the death of a 21-year-old employee who had been working on a forklift that had malfunctioned.
Hospital workers in Denver likely heard about a horrible shooting that took place at a psychiatric clinic last year in which one clinic employee was killed and five others were injured. Thought it happened outside of Colorado, it has raised considerable concern amongst employees within the mental health field. Now that a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration evaluation has been completed, it may force some hospitals and clinics to reevaluate their safety plans for employees.