An employee of a Pennsylvania construction company was killed as the result of a fall while working to erect a barn at a family-owned farm in East Allen Township. The man, age 28, was one of several employees working on the trusses of the barn when he fell approximately 25 feet to the floor below. According to the Northampton County Coroner, the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, and the manner of the death was ruled as accidental.
As is typical of any workplace fatality, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an investigation into the construction site accident. The investigation will look at whether any safety rule violations contributed to the man’s death. If the investigation turns up evidence that the employer could have prevented the fatality, OSHA has the ability to issue monetary fines and other penalties. The investigation may take up to six months to complete.
Even if no safety rule violations are found to have contributed to the workplace fatality, the family of the deceased employee may be eligible for survivor benefits under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law. While the primary purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide medical care and compensation to injured workers, the law also may provide some monetary benefits to a deceased worker’s loved ones who depended on the worker for financial support.
The available survivor benefits may include compensation for the worker’s lost income as well as burial expenses. The amount awarded is determined with reference to a variety of factors including the claimant’s relationship to the deceased worker and the extent to which the claimant depended on the worker’s income for financial support. In many cases, the worker’s spouse, dependent children and dependent parents may be eligible for benefits. For the best chance of recovery, any claims for survivor benefits should be filed within 12 months of the death.
Source: Lehigh Valley, “Seiple Farms fall fatal to construction worker“, Kurt Bresswein, May 21, 2013