Our Worcester personal injury law blog recently discussed the case of two utility workers killed in a tragic crane-truck accident. A new report from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and the state's AFL-CIO puts those fatalities into a context that local residents will find alarming.
28 per week: this is the average number of municipal employees in the state who suffer on-the-job injuries that keep them from coming back to work for at least five days. The report cites the example of a 26-year veteran of the Natick Department of Public Works who was killed by a backhoe while fixing a broken water main as just one of the nearly 60 work-related fatalities in Massachusetts over the course of this year and the last. The primary causes of these deaths included equipment striking workers and machinery crushing them.
The report takes the important step of calling out the need to do a better job of enforcing protections for workers like these as well as the need for stiffer penalties in the event of violations. However, measures like those proposed do little to support workers who have already suffered injuries on the job, whether due to heavy equipment or machinery, repetitive stress or occupational disease.
Employees injured at work will likely be eligible to collect benefits through the workers' compensation system; such benefits typically cover lost wages (or a percentage thereof) and medical bills that arise from the injury. Surviving family members of fatal accident victims may similarly be able to collect death benefits. In either situation, it can be prudent to consult with a legal professional regarding one's rights under workers' compensation in order to help ensure that those rights are protected and all benefits to which one is entitled are collected in full.
Source: The Patriot Ledger, "Service, report to highlight workplace deaths," Jonathan Phelps, Apr. 28, 2014