In 2007, a fire sparked in a Colorado workplace. At the time, the company was conducting maintenance routines when the deadly blaze broke out. The fire claimed the lives of five workers, leaving the families of the deceased at a loss. Because of the circumstances surrounding the accident, OSHA fined Xcel for safety violations and the occupational harm sustained by employees.
Xcel faced criminal charges for the safety violations that were found to have been contributing factors to the work injuries in Colorado. They were later acquitted of the charges but still faced fines by OSHA. Xcel was ordered to pay $150,000 in penalties in a settlement they reached with OSHA.
Xcel acknowledged their fault in some of the safety violations but not all. The company has claimed to have made changes in order to prevent any future incidences from occurring that threaten workplace safety. Although Xcel paid fines, it is not stated if the company compensated the families for their loss as well.
A workplace accident can be costly for the employer and employee. Employers may face penalties and fines for safety violations while employees affected by an accident may face loss of wages or disabilities due to injuries sustained. In the case of workers who die as a result of occupational injuries, surviving family members are typically able file a claim under the workers' compensation program in Colorado. Injured employees can also file a claim under this program. It's essential that families and victims know the laws surrounding workers' compensation claims and what rights are available to them.
Source: TwinCities.com, "Xcel fined $150,000 for 2007 Colorado accident," May 28, 2013