There are numerous posts in this blog that have discussed the ramifications
that employers must deal with when they do not create a reasonably safe
workplace for their employees. However, what some readers in Pittsburgh
may not realize is that employers may be dealing with these ramifications
years after an employee is
injured at work. A Pittsburgh mine was recently assessed a fine of $110,000 for an employee
that suffered a workplace injury more than five years ago.
In October of 2007, a miner at a Somerset County coal mine suffered a work-related
injury when he was shocked while trying to change a fuse for a high-voltage
switch. What the worker did not realize is that the chief electrician
for the mine had purposely disconnected the safety switch two days earlier.
The purposeful disconnection not only resulted in the miner being shocked,
but also resulted in another worker performing his daily duties just inches
away from a 7,200-volt live line.
The accident was investigated by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration,
which determined that this safety violation was "significant and
substantial and highly likely to result in permanently disabling injuries."
In addition, an administrative law judge said that the violation was "quintessentially
flagrant." The MSHA therefore fined the Somerset County mine.
When an employee is injured on the job, he or she is very often entitled
to workers' compensation benefits. The type and amount of benefits
depend upon the following:
- Medical treatment and expenses such as prescription medication, medical
equipment, visits to doctors and health facilities and hospital stays
- Wages that are lost when an employee is out of work recovering from the
injury or that are lost because an employee is unable to obtain the same
level of pay because of the injury
- Specific loss benefits for any permanent injuries
- Death benefits if the injury had a fatal impact on the employee
It is important that an injured employee pursue every type of benefit to
which he or she is entitled. However, this process often can become very
complex very quickly.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Mine safety hazard results in $110,000 fine," April 10, 2013