Federal investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were called in to investigate a workplace fatality involving a man who was fatally injured in a tank containing chemical solvents. The accident occurred in Wheeling, Illinois on Thursday, November 29, 2012.
The deceased was hired along with other crew members to clean a storage tank, according to Fire Chief Keith MacIsaac. First responders arrived to find the victim lying face down in chemicals remaining in the storage tank. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
Authorities indicated that the storage tank had been used for storing chemicals that were used in manufacturing consumer products and paint thinners. They also related that the victim was not wearing any type of protective gear when he was found. Under normal circumstances, protective gear is required when working in enclosed structures that have contained chemicals and other solvents.
OSHA has established guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers engaged involved in activities involving chemicals. Some of the requirements are for protective clothing, gloves, boots, goggles and respirators, in addition to head, eye and ear protection.
It is unknown if there will be any fines against the employer for OSHA safety violations.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act covers all workers who are injured or killed while in the course and scope of their employment. In situations such as this case, where a worker’s death is the result of his duties, the deceased employee’s beneficiaries are entitled to death benefits under the act. The primary beneficiaries are the spouse and any children. The benefits will be paid to spouse and the children until they reach the age of 18, or until 25, if enrolled in an accredited educational institution. In the event that there is no spouse or children, the benefits will be paid to totally dependent parents. The benefits will be two thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage for the prior 52 weeks, not to exceed $1,295.47. This will be paid for a period of 25 years or $500,000, whichever is greater. There is also a one-time payment of $8,000 for funeral benefits.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury on the job or lost a loved one in a fatal accident on the job, you need to talk to an Illinois attorney experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases. There may even be a possibility of a third party case, if it can be shown that some third party’s negligence was the cause of the injury or fatality.