Last summer, two workers in the Toledo area lost their lives after getting trapped in a grain silo. The two men were trying to repair a clogged hole in the storage bin when something went wrong.
Despite rescuers trying for hours to reach the men, they both died. One was 29 years old and the other was 56.
Now, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has cited the owner of the silo, who also employed the two men, for violating OSHA’s safety standards as they pertain to grain storage facilities.
The citation is still pending, and the employer will have an opportunity to respond. However, OSHA is accusing the employer of two willful and two serious violations. One of the violations was for failing to have an adequate rescue plan in place at the time of the accident.
OSHA is proposing a fine of over $290,000 for the violations. OSHA also wants to place the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
In this case, the families of these men are likely going to be covered for at least some of their losses through workers’ comp.
However, this does not mean that OSHA violations are simply irrelevant. Far from it. In some cases, they may be evidence that an employer acted intentionally and thus is liable for additional compensation.
In other situations, such as when a non-employee gets hurt, an OSHA violation can form the basis of a negligence case. In both cases, the bottom line is that that the victims have a better chance of getting the compensation they deserve.
An injured worker, or his or her family, should pay careful attention to whether any OSHA violations come about as a result of the accident. If the answer is yes, the victims may wish to be sure that they understand the full range of their options.