Workplace Safety and Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania

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Every year, thousands of people are injured in work related accidents. In 2012, over 4,300 workers were killed on the job – amounting to more than 84 deaths a week, or 12 deaths a day. There were nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illness reported from private industries in 2012. Specifically pertaining to Pennsylvania, there were 163 fatalities in 2012, which is down from the 186 that occurred in 2011. If you sustain a job injury, the Workers’ Compensation Act provides for medical expense and, in the event you are unable to work, wage-loss compensation benefits. And, unfortunately, some of these accidents can be fatal. In those cases, death benefits are paid to the decedent’s survivors.

A Bucks County worker died in a freak accident when he was crushed by a 100-foot tall pile of collapsing rock salt, according to NBC News. The worker was operating an end-loader on top of the massive pile of salt, which is used to keep the road clear of ice and snow, when the salt fell on the worker. Emergency crews were overwhelmed during their search of the worker because the salt kept collapsing around the rescue crews. When the rescuers finally reached the machine, the worker was dead. The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Workplace Safety

Under the OSHA Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace.  OSHA sets standards, training, outreach, education, and assistance for employers to ensure compliance with the Act. When the Act was passed, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania opted to follow the federal laws of occupational safety and health law, over a state specific plan; thereby, PA employers must adhere to the federal OSHA Act.

OSHA laws protect all workers in any business, except independent contractors. Employers are expected to recognize any and all workplace hazards and rectify them according to OSHA guidelines. Simply put, a hazard is the potential for harm. OSHA provides a set-by-set “job hazard analysis” to determine if the workplace environment contains a hazard. The job hazard analysis is a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify uncontrolled hazards before they occur, and/or eliminate future risk. The employer must consider what could go wrong, what are potential consequences, how could the hazard occur, what are contributing factors, and the likelihood of reoccurrence. Some common hazards include chemical exposure, electrical shock, collapse/excavation and falls.

Collect Your Damages: Workers Compensation

If you have been injured while on the job, you must report the injury to your manager or supervisor within 120 days. The law provides several types of workers’ compensation benefits, including:

  • Payment for lost wages if it is determined you are totally disabled or unable to work;

  • Death benefits if the injury results in a death. Surviving dependents may be entitled to benefits;

  • Specific loss benefits if you lost the permanent use of certain body parts, including your thumb, finger, arm, leg, foot or toe, or have scarring from the neck up; and

  • Medical Care expenses for related, and reasonable, surgical and medical services, including medicine and supplies.

Workplace accidents and collection of workers’ compensation can be a complex process.  An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney can help ensure your claim is processed appropriately and that you receive the benefits you deserve. Call us now at (215) 481-9979 or contact us online.

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