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Construction Accidents – “The Fatal Four”

Vermont workers’ compensation laws provide death benefits to dependents of those who are fatally injured in a work injury. The public generally thinks of workers’ compensation as providing benefits to workers’ injured on the job, but Vermont workers’ compensation provides death benefits too.

Vermont workers’ compensation lawyers at Kalter & Kalter, PC have handled many cases where a Vermont worker has been killed on the job and our workers’ comp lawyers have seen that fatal accidents often happen in the construction industry.

Sadly fatal work accidents can happen in just about any job but according to OSHA, construction accidents comprise a large number of fatal work accidents in the United States. Of the 4,386 workers who were killed on the job in 2014, 899 were in killed in construction accidents. This is an astonishing and unacceptable 20%!

Vermont workers’ compensation laws allow the dependents of a worker killed on the job to file a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits. Workers’ compensation death benefits include payment of funeral expenses, not to exceed $10,000.00. In a case of a fatal on the job accident, Vermont workers’ comp will also pay medical bills associated with the fatal injury.

Workers’ compensation death benefits in Vermont also allow for payment of compensation to surviving dependents. The relationship of the surviving, dependent family members to the deceased worker determines the amount and duration of the compensation. The question of who is a dependent is not always clear cut. In fact, the Vermont Supreme Court has reviewed that question more than once.

OSHA records show that the majority of worker deaths fall within one of the following “Fatal Four” causes of death:

– Falls- 359 out of 899 construction deaths in 2014
– Electrocutions – 74 out of 899 deaths
– Struck by Object – 73 out of 899 deaths
– Caught in Between * -39 out of 899 deaths
*This category includes construction workers killed when caught in or compressed by equipment or objects.

Eliminating the “Fatal Four” would save 545 workers’ lives in the United States every year.

Not surprisingly given the above statistics, the most frequently cited OSHA violation across the United States is fall protection. OSHA recently cited a New Jersey company for repeatedly violating “OSHA standards by failing to provide employees with fall protection and continuing to expose construction workers to serious injury or death”. The proposed penalties in that case are $79,240.00.

Violations involving hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), ladders, and electrical wiring are also among the top cited violations. These types of violations can lead to death or electrical injuries. A few years ago In White River Junction, Vermont, OSHA slammed the United States Postal Services with $420,000 in fines for exposing workers to the risk of electric shock.

All jobs carry some risk of injury or death. Construction jobs; however, carry a greater risk of serious work injury or death on the job. The Vermont workers’ compensation attorneys at Kalter & Kalter Law Offices are happy to advise you of your rights under Vermont Workers’ comp laws.

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