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You Shouldn't Have To Fight For Workers' Comp Benefits

Mark first-day workplace accident as a major 'never event'

There's a term used in the medical profession for actions that are just not supposed to happen. They're called "never events." Counted on a government list of 25 such events are things like operating on the wrong site, transplanting an incompatible organ, transfusing incompatible blood products and leaving foreign surgical equipment in a patient's body.

While a formal list may not exist for the workers' compensation world in order to prevent unnecessary workplace accidents and workplace injuries, there are some just seem to be a matter of common sense for every Pennsylvania business and regulator to have at the top of the list. Perhaps the most obvious one would be that no person, on their first day of work, should fall victim to a preventable workplace accident causing injury, or worse, death.

Had that been the guiding rule at a Florida bottling plant in 2012, a 21-year-old man might still be alive today. Sadly, on August 16 of that year, the first day he had reported for work as a temporary staff person, he was crushed by one of the factory's product stacking machines. Earlier this month, the company was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide the man with proper safety training.

That was only one of a dozen issues that OSHA describes as willful and serious violations by the firm. The agency has proposed fining the company more than $190,000.

According to OSHA, the man was cleaning up glass from under the machine when another employee started up the device. OSHA says that had proper training been provided, workers would have known to lock down the machine and display warning tags to prevent unintentional start ups. Other hazards noted by inspectors included, fire and shock dangers, and falling material from overhead conveyer belts.

Companies offering proper training and taking other precautions would go a long way toward ensuring that workers are better protected on the job. When something does go awry, causing injury or death, workers' compensation is supposed to be there to help. The challenge of getting the maximum allowable compensation from that system can be met with experienced legal help.

Source: EHSToday, "Temporary Worker Killed at Bacardi Bottling, OSHA Says Company Failed to Train," Sandy Smith, Feb. 11, 2013

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