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Workplace accidents: Landscaper cited after worker's death

Company owners in New York are bound by federal law to provide workers with safe workplace environments that are free of known hazards. Unfortunately, some employers continue to violate safety regulations and put their employees in harm's way. One of the often-neglected responsibilities of employers is the proper maintenance of equipment to avoid workplace accidents.

In June, an employee of a landscaping company lost his life in a workplace accident that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration deemed entirely avoidable. The company was recently cited for committing a safety violation that led to a fatality. The company has reportedly contested the OSHA findings.

An incident report indicates that the worker was occupied with weed trimming while another employee was operating a riding lawnmower nearby. The lawnmower apparently picked up a rock and shot it out through the discharge chute; the rock then struck the weed-trimming worker on the back of his head. He was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to the injury within a few days. Investigators determined that the safeguard on the lawnmower's discharge chute had broken off in 2014 and was never replaced. Had the guard been replaced, it would have prevented the discharging of the rock.

New York families who lose loved ones in fatal workplace accidents may have to face immediate financial responsibilities that would likely not have been part of their budgets. Fortunately, the worker's compensation insurance system offers death benefits to covered dependents. Families may pursue claims for these benefits and will likely be compensated for end-of-life expenses. Furthermore, the death benefits usually also include a portion of lost wages to assist with day-to-day living expenses of the surviving family members.

Source: wgrz.com, "Lockport landscaping company cited by OSHA", Oct. 28, 2015

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