bridge made out of steelEver since steel was first used in 1833 in early skyscrapers, inventors have found new ways to use it. Steel can be found in almost 70% of all household appliances, food containers, roofing materials, and doors, as well as the cars we drive and the bridges that Americans cross every day. The production of steel has also changed and become more efficient over time but that hasn’t changed the fact that employees are still working in a very dangerous industry.

Fatality In Catasauqua

In a steel fabrication plant, steel is cut, bent, welded, and formed into a wide variety of products. This means that workers are constantly surrounded by saws, chisels, torches, lasers, presses, and machines that release superheated steam – the perfect ingredients for an accident.

In July of 2016, a 53-year-old man was operating one of the press machines when the pressure of the machine caused an object to fly out and he was hit in the abdomen. He was rushed to the hospital but it was already too late and doctors pronounced him dead at 8:45 a.m.

An autopsy was performed and he was found to have sharp force injuries. While his employer has not confirmed it, it does imply that he as impaled by the object.

OSHA’s Involvement

Employers are required to report any fatalities on their job site to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration within eight hours of the death. OSHA then sends out a representative to perform an investigation in order to determine if a violation of safety and health standards occurred. During this process, the investigator will:

  1. Interview all witnesses as quickly as possible in a private setting.
  2. Have all interviews put in writing and have the witnesses sign it.
  3. Visit the scene of the accident to identify any immediate hazards.
  4. Review previous citations issued from OSHA to the employer.
  5. Determine if there is a reason to make a criminal referral.

The investigator may also be required to contact the family of the deceased and provide them with ongoing updates about the investigation.

If it is determined that a safety issue caused the accident, the employer may face severe fines and could see their workplace shut down until all necessary corrections have been made.

Workers’ Compensation Still Applies

While many employees are aware of the fact that workers’ compensation insurance will help them pay for the medical bills and may also provide them with a fraction of their lost wages while factory where steel is madethey are on the mend, many don’t realize that death benefits are also available to loved ones if an employee dies due to an injury they sustained while at work.

Who Is Eligible?

In Pennsylvania, the surviving spouse of the deceased and children are typically the beneficiaries of any workers’ compensation payments.

What Are The Benefits Available?

There are several benefits available:

  1. Burial Costs: Funerals, especially unexpected ones, are expensive. To ease the financial burden, workers’ compensation can cover some of those expenses.
  2. A Fraction Of The Deceased’s Pay: A weekly payment that is determined based on how much the deceased made at the time of their passing can be obtained by dependants.

What About My Loved One’s Medical Bills?

If the deceased received medical treatments for the injury that ultimately resulted in their death, workers’ compensation should cover those expenses.

What If The Employer Is Disputing My Claim?

Unfortunately, disputes involving workers’ compensation claims are not uncommon. Employers frequently attempt to claim that the injured or deceased employee was not eligible for filing a claim in order to prevent their insurance costs from going up. If you find that your claim has been delayed or denied, it is vitally important that you contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

An attorney can work to resolve any disputes, ensure that the correct compensation amount is calculated, speak with the insurance company representatives, and handle appeals. They can also review the circumstances surrounding the fatal accident and determine if a third-party lawsuit is another way that compensation can be obtained.