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Fatal workplace injury: Hotel worker trapped in walk-in freezer

Seeing a loved one go to work never to return is a devastating situation, and yet, that is sometimes the fate of families in Colorado and other states. As with any other fatal workplace injury, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be investigating the recent death of a hotel employee in another state. It appears a 61-year-old woman somehow got herself trapped in the walk-in freezer at the hotel.

Reportedly, the woman's family became concerned when she failed to come home on a recent Monday evening. They called the hotel to inquire, but workers did not discover her body in the freezer until the following morning. Authorities said that no criminal activity is suspected.

Video footage shows the woman entering the freezer at approximately 8 p.m. Monday night, but it does not show her exiting. According to a hotel spokesperson, there is an exit mechanism inside the walk-in freezer to avoid a person being trapped inside. It has not been confirmed whether that mechanism was operational at the time. Reportedly, there is evidence of the worker trying to escape from the freezer.

OSHA investigators will likely determine whether the escape mechanism was in working order, and also whether employees were informed of how to use it. Although no amount of money can replace a loved one, the death benefits offered by the Colorado workers' compensation insurance system may ease the financial burden of end-of-life expenses and the sudden loss of income. The surviving family members of any worker who suffered a fatal workplace injury are entitled to pursue a benefits claim.

Source: qconline.com, "Kitchen worker found dead in freezer at Atlanta hotel", Lauren Foreman, John Spink, March 22, 2016

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