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Some states pursuing criminal charges for workplace deaths

Most employed people in Pennsylvania know that if they should ever become injured while at work, they may be able to apply for workers’ compensation benefits to help them recover lost wages or provide for needed medical care. If a workplace accident results in a fatality, some family members may be available for death or survivor’s benefits. When a death is linked to a safety violation on the part of the employer, fines may be levied and civil lawsuits might ensue.

While these are the commonly thought of outcomes of a workplace accident, they are not the only ones. It seems that there may be mounting support for criminal charges to be brought against employers who are believed to have willingness ignored safety rules and protocols and whose actions contributed to workplace fatalities.

As reported by the Post Register, there have only been 52 cases pursued in criminal court against companies for employee deaths in the last 47 years. One retired employee from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, however, hopes that this will increase. The belief is that by holding companies accountable to a higher standard may be the best way to really make safety the priority it should be.

Pennsylvania is one of the states that has seen a criminal case related to a workplace death. Other states include California, Washington, Main, Georgia and New York. The case in Washington State was only filed last year and marked the first time such a case has been initiated there. Whether or not more such cases will happen remain to be seen but clearly safety is a problem that needs more attention.