The family of a sanitation worker in DeWitt N.Y. is mourning the loss of their family member who was killed on the job on May 25th, 2016.
An Avoidable Tragedy
The victim, who was a 58-year-old resident of Syracuse N.Y., was working at Syracuse Haulers Waste Removal at the time of the accident. His accident occurred early in the morning, around 8:00 a.m. While the police have not confirmed the details, initial reports said that a dumpster had fallen off of the back of a truck and onto the man. What has been confirmed is that, after his coworkers called 911, the fire department and an ambulance arrived. He was rushed to Upstate University Hospital where, despite his doctor’s best efforts, he passed away.
The cause of his death was directly related to serious head injuries that he sustained when the heavy equipment fell on him.
OSHA Now Involved
OSHA has reported that they were notified of the fatal accident and that they have opened an investigation into the matter.
This is the first time that a serious accident occurred or a worker died at Syracuse Haulers Waste Removal according to the administration. The company, however, has been cited for less serious violations as recently as March and June of 2015. At that time, inspectors cited a total of five violations, although ultimately, three were dropped. As a result, the company paid almost $3,000 in fines for failing to use electrical equipment as classified and for not properly labeling equipment with a load rating.
Sanitation Workers Often In Harm’s Way
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that sanitation work is the seventh most dangerous industry in the entire Unites States. Workers are regularly injured by:
- heavy machinery
- toxic substances
- sharp objects
- car accidents
- slips and falls
Despite working in one of the most dangerous industries, New York sanitation workers are not allowed to file for workers’ compensation. The state suggests that injured workers or the families of those that have passed, file a claim with the New York City Comptroller within 90 days of the accident. But this claim does not mean that they will be given compensation.
Won’t Compensation Be Awarded By OSHA?
No. OSHA will perform an investigation and if they find that safety standards have been violated, they will write citations and fine the company. If they find that other employees are in immediate danger, they also have the authority to shut down the worksite completely until the problem has been fixed. They do not, however, dictate any sort of compensation for injured workers and their families.
Then How Can Workers Get Compensation?
Sanitation workers or the loved ones of a worker who have been killed in an accident may find that the only way they can recover the compensation they deserve and so desperately need is to file a lawsuit against the party who is responsible for the accident. This party may be the city itself, the manufacturer of a defective part, or even the driver of a car who hit the worker or the sanitation truck and caused injuries.
How Long Will A Lawsuit Take?
Each case is different, but most lawsuits take at least several months. Prior to reaching a settlement agreement or going to trial, it takes time to prepare the necessary documentations, collect evidence, and take witness statements.
Can I File If I Became Ill Because Of My Job?
Yes. Sometimes exposures to certain hazards result in serious illnesses instead of physical injury. For example, exposure to certain powders or liquids can result in skin diseases. Workers are also frequently required to be tested for certain communicable diseases if they have been pricked by an exposed needle which was not properly disposed of. Whatever the cause, if a worker becomes ill and suffers losses due to that illness, they may pursue a claim for compensation.