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Workplace accident ruled avoidable

A workplace accident is tragic for both employers and employees. In a recent case, the McLean County, Illinois coroner's jury ruled that the death of a 56-year-old man was accidental but also avoidable. The workplace accident occurred at Illinois Wesleyan University in early April 2011.

According to the Deputy Coroner the deceased, along with another worker, were securing roofing panels when the incident took place. Both men were on scaffolding when the deceased fell 12 feet to the ground below. The coroner reported that the man died 8 days later from neck and head injuries. No drugs or alcohol were found in the man's system.

In addition, the Deputy Coroner did not find any defects with the scaffolding. He reported that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have cited Union Roofing, the employer, for two safety violations. The fines totaled $18,480.

The violations were based on findings that the Illinois employer had not inspected the site properly, provided inadequate preventative measures, and had not ensured that the proper safety equipment was being used. These were also noted to be repeat violations. Because of the recent violations, the accident was ruled accidental but avoidable.

In 2001, the same company was cited and fined $6,000 for another workplace accident that resulted in the death of an employee. OSHA reported that an employee was driving an ATV on the roof of Pekin High School when he lost control and drove off the building. The fall resulted in the death of the employee.

The victim's family from the scaffolding accident would do well to consult an attorney about options available as a result of the tragic accident. The OSHA findings may have significance in determining the proper course of action. An Illinois attorney experienced in handling claims arising from workplace accidents may provide some answers and help devise a course of action to achieve the optimal results.

Source: WJBC, "Lexington roof worker's death ruled accidental but avoidable," Stephanie Pawlowski, Sept. 7, 2011

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Hannigan & Botha, Ltd.
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