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Workplace injury or death can lead to third-party claims

Colorado employers must protect their workers against workplace hazards and ensure that all employees are informed about potential dangers in their work environments. Many severe injuries and fatalities have occurred in cases in which company owners failed to protect workers from the dangers of machinery by installing lockout devices. A recent case in a criminal court in another state shows an employer may be held liable for severe negligence that leads to a workplace injury or fatality.

A tuna packing company, along with some members of its management, was charged with felonies related to the death of a worker in 2012. It was reported that the door of an oven was closed, and the cooking process was activated by workers who were unaware of the fact that a 62-year-old worker was inside the pressurized steamer. The worker's body was discovered when the oven was opened after two hours at 270 degrees.

The company apparently disagrees with the charges, contending that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the safety violations were not willful. However, the Los Angeles District Attorney says worker safety is taken extremely seriously, and criminal prosecution will follow gross disregard of safety violations. It was reported that the individual defendants may have to serve time in jail, and the company may face a hefty fine.

A worker who has suffered a workplace injury in Colorado -- or a family who has lost a loved one in an on-the-job accident -- may pursue compensation from the workers' compensation insurance fund. If a third party was responsible for the workplace accident, or if an employer committed gross negligence, a civil claim for additional financial relief might be viable. Injured workers or surviving families may utilize the services of experienced workers' compensation attorneys to assess the viability of such claims and guide them throughout the legal proceedings.

Source: utsandiego.com, "Tuna company worker burned to death with fish", Jonathan Horn, April 27, 2015

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