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Federal bill meant to reduce workplace fatalities

Pennsylvania's Senator Bob Casey supports a new federal proposal known as the Protecting America's Workers Act (PAWA). The bill is designed to punish employers that refuse to take safety measures to  prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.

A spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) believes that a great portion of the 4,600 work-related fatalities that occur every year could be avoided. He believes that too many companies "decry regulations and emphasize profits over safety."

Close to half of work-related deaths occurred in the transportation industry that includes traffic accidents. The other significant area with a large number of fatalities is, not surprisingly, in the construction industry.

Hopefully, the above measure will amount to more than just a band-aid approach to an extremely serious problem. In any case, options for families of workers injured or killed at the workplace are mostly confined to the workers' compensation area.

The purpose of workers’ compensation laws is to compensate individuals and family members for injuries that occur upon the job. It is assumed that the employer is responsible for the safety of the worker, and therefore the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier will indemnify victims for job-related accidents.

Workers’ compensation claims require a great deal of jumping through hoops. It’s best that an experienced attorney that practices in this area be there to guide workers and family members through these hoops so that the process of making a claim will go smoothly.

Certain occupations already involve enough risks with or without employer indifference regarding their safety. Construction workers, for example, are expected to operate dangerous equipment, work long hours, and work at a number of unsafe locations. The risk of injury is already present under even the best of circumstances.

Source: WESA 90.5, "On-The-Job Deaths Continue At Steady, Grim Pace," by Howard Berkes, April 26, 2013

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