When a worker is injured in an accident caused by weather conditions, can anyone be held responsible? The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. It is designed to provide benefits for injured workers regardless of who or what was the cause of the accident. This does not mean employers are off the hook if it is determined the accident was the result of negligence. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigates accidents where serious injury or death are reported. If evidence of neglect or actions which contributed to the accident are found, companies face stiff fines and penalties.
Workers injured or killed in accidents which are caused by weather conditions may be victims of unpreventable incidents. Employers have no control over rain, wind, snow, ice and other weather systems. As such, you might assume all weather related accidents are indeed just that, accidents. Sadly in the case of a young man killed in a Notre Dame accident involving a hydraulic lift toppled over in high winds, the question of whether or not the accident could have been prevented remains unanswered. Declan Sullivan died after a 53 mph wind gust knocked down the 40 foot lift. As stated in an article appearing on InsuranceJournal.com, Nortre Dame has since been fined “$77,500 for safety violations tied to Sullivan’s death.”
What could have been done to prevent this accident? Although staff at Notre Dame could do nothing to change the weather conditions, knowledge of such conditions might have influenced whether it was safe to be outside at the time. The same could be said about any number of weather conditions known to cause accidents. Knowing this, employers and employees are reminded to always pay close attention to warnings of hazardous weather conditions. Otherwise, what you don’t know can hurt you.