We read recently of a young man who was just 22 years old when his life
came to an end without warning and without reason. He was at work as an
apprentice ironworker — a new job he had only held for a few weeks —
when he fell from a steel girder just nine inches wide. The fall of more
than 30 feet killed him.
According to a statement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
the young worker and his “dreams of marriage, children and exploring
the great outdoors” died together on that jobsite about 150 miles
north of Joplin. OSHA cited his employer for safety violations that contributed
to the worker’s needless death.
The worker’s life was “cut short because his employer failed to
provide fall protection, a violation of its own safety manual and OSHA
rules,” the federal agency stated in a recent press release. Think
of how wide that girder was that held the worker aloft — just nine inches
wide — and yet he was provided no fall protection on that Kansas City,
Missouri, worksite. OSHA has fined the employer more than $500,000 in
In similar situations, the employer will often fail to even acknowledge
the death or apologize to the worker’s grieving family. The employer
and the employer’s insurer fear being held legally and financially
responsible for the fatal fall caused by employer negligence, and so they
hold their tongues.
Many times, the insurer will contact the grieving family and offer to settle
the matter quickly, offering what can seem at first glance to be substantial
compensation. It’s at this point that it makes sense for the family
to sit down with an experienced wrongful death attorney who knows not
only the law, but is also familiar with insurance company tactics. An
experienced attorney also understands which kinds of settlements benefit
the family and which kinds benefit the insurer, and helps the family sort
through its options.