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What Happens When Businesses Let Workers’ Comp Policy’s Lapse

Workplace accidents are sometimes more than injuries. Sadly, a large number of workplace accidents result in death. An employee of Tortilleria Chinantla died when his arm was caught in a dough mixing machine, and the machine pulled him inside and broke his neck.  The employees immediate family members may apply for workers compensation death benefits although it is likely to be a struggle as the company had lapsed on it’s workers comp policy. Both OSHA and the Department of Labor are investigating the incident to see whether or not proper safety precautions had been in place.

Lapses in Workers’ Comp Policies

After the incident, the Workers Compensation Board visited the factory and shut them down because the workers comp policy lapsed in March of 2010. The board doesn’t always shut companies down for a lapse in workers comp insurance, but they can. Because of a workplace death in this factory, the board decided to shut them down until $56,000 in penalties have been repaid, and the workers compensation insurance has been re-instated, and until after OSHA and the Department of Labor have investigated the situation further.

A Right to a Safe Workplace

OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970) was passed to give workers the right to a safe workplace and prevent them from being killed or injured at work. Employees are required by law to provide employees with safe working conditions free from known dangers. In a surveillance video at the Tortilleria Chinantla factory, it shows the 22 year old worker repeatedly putting his arm into the machine to push tortilla dough down before eventually being pulled into the machine and killed. OSHA’s investigation may reveal this was a known danger and the employer was not providing a safe working environment, which will result in additional fines for the company as well as the potential for lawsuits and possibly an inability to re-open the business.

You can read more about New York workers’ compensation death benefits in our law library article “What you need to know about workers’ comp death benefits“.


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