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Workplace accident results in fatality, thousands in fines

Most everyone in Illinois is aware of the responsibilities that employees have to their employers. They are expected to be punctual as well as to perform to the best of their abilities. However, employers also have a responsibility to their employees. Perhaps most importantly, employers are responsible for the safety of those who work for them. Unfortunately, failure to meet these responsibilities has the potential of resulting in a fatal workplace accident as has happened to an out-of-state woman.

The accident occurred in Jan. 2014 at a beet processing plant owned by Western Sugar Cooperative. Reports indicate that a 28-year-old woman fell through an opening in the floor and landed into processing equipment. She died as a result of her injuries.

As in most cases that result in a fatality, the incident sparked an investigation into whether any health or safety standards were violated leading to the accident. Wyoming investigators claim that the woman’s death could have been prevented because Western Sugar had failed to place adequate guards around floor openings. The investigation into the woman’s death found 12 violations and led to a suggested $71,000 fine.

While it does little to reduce a family’s grief over the death of their loved one, states, including Illinois, require employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits for their employees in the event of a workplace accident that generally extends to family members in the event of a fatality. These benefits can provide compensation for funeral expenses and lost wages, among other things. However, some people have found the path to compensation complicated, and experience with the system can be helpful to ensure adequate and timely compensation.

Source: chem.info, "OSHA Never Inspected Sugar Beet Plant Before Accident", Ben Neary, June 16, 2014

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Hannigan & Botha, Ltd.
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