Skibiel Law

OSHA investigates fatal on-the-job accident in Georgia

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently completed an investigation into a fatal workplace accident at the Georgia plant of International Paper. The on-the-job accident claimed the life of a crane operator earlier this year. Investigators determined that safety violations by the employer caused the worker's death.

An accident report indicated that the company failed to ensure that the crane's braking equipment was in proper working order. It was explained that the gantry crane runs backward and forward on a set of rails with a rail stop at each end. Due to the operator's inability to control the braking of the massive machine, the crane connected with the rail stop with such a force that it caused the cab to break free from the crane.

The operator was in the cab when this happened, and the impact caused him to be ejected; he fell approximately 70 feet to the ground. He suffered fatal injuries, and his death was pronounced at the scene. The company was cited for failure to adequately maintain the crane and repair the faulty braking system; furthermore, the company received a citation for failing to ensure that the operator of the crane was restrained.

Georgia workers should not be exposed to known hazards that can cause avoidable workplace accidents. Any family who has lost a loved one in an on-the-job accident will likely welcome the financial aid offered by the workers' compensation insurance program. Having to deal with end-of-life arrangements and lost income at a time of emotional trauma can be overwhelming. Death benefits claims may be pursued by covered dependents to help with the costs of a funeral and burial, and these claims can include a financial package based on the deceased worker's wage level to ease the burden of day-to-day living expenses.

Source:, "OSHA cites International Paper for safety violations in man's death", Christie Ethridge, Dec. 8, 2015

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