Workplace Fatalities In South Florida

June 22, 2013

OSHA, the organization which oversees public workplace safety, found that 33 work-related fatalities occurred in South Florida in the 2012 fiscal year. This represents a rise from 2011 when there were only 25 reported workplace deaths. Information gathered by OSHA reveals that there were 227 work-related fatalities in Florida during 2012 and 21 reported work-related deaths for all of Florida through May 4, 2013. These fatalities were found to be the result of falls, electrocutions, motor vehicle or equipment accidents. The victims of these fatalities were also noted to be involved in mostly the construction, landscaping and roofing industries.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides information, training and assistance to workers and employers. Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards.

Last year the agency made 74 investigations across Florida and assessed $521,475 in fines and penalties against employers who violated safety rules. These violations and failures to adhere to safety regulations and requirements puts workers at risk, possibly resulting in death. Of OSHA's list of the highest proposed monetary penalties in the United States for fiscal year 2012 (these fines represent proposed penalties issued by OSHA between Oct. 1, 2011, and Sept. 30, 201 and dollar amounts may be reduced as part of a settlement or litigation) the fifth highest fine was to a Delray Beach environmental group that allegedly knowingly failed to protect workers from lead exposure while cleaning and reclaiming lead at a Delray shooting range. The company was placed on OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program after being cited with 11 willful violations for failure to provide employees with a respirator fit-test and training, failure to use engineering controls, failure to provide eye and head protection, and failure to monitor lead levels in workers' blood. Four serious violations were issued for failure to provide workers with their blood-lead level results and provide appropriate respirators when workers were exposed to lead greater than 10 times the maximum concentration. Darlene Fossum, OSHA area director in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, stated, "The management of Welch Group Environmental acknowledged awareness of OSHA's lead standards and the dangers associated with lead exposure but continued to allow hazards to exist, exposing employees to serious health risks."

If you or a loved one have suffered a workplace fatality or death, contact one of our experienced workers' compensation attorney's today. Call 1-(877) WE-CAN-HELP (1-877-932-2643) or contact us online to speak with one of the dedicated workers' compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Franks, Koenig & Neuwelt today.

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