No worker should ever die due to an on-the-job accident, but it certainly can happen. When it does, the surviving family members may be left not just with emotional wounds, but with a serious financial burden. Not only might they have to contend with unexpected costs associated with the tragedy, but they may also have relied on that worker’s income. Fortunately, Minnesota families are often eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of their loved one. An explosion at a gas station last year had just that exact result for one worker’s family.
The explosion happened while a worker was cleaning an underground fuel tank one afternoon last fall. The worker was allegedly draining brine water from the tank and using a drill as part of the process. The drill reportedly lit the gasoline fumes and caused a fire and subsequent explosion. The worker was not able to escape and died in the accident.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the incident and only recently released its findings. It determined that the worker’s company committed several violations in connection with the accident. The company has since been fined around $204,000 for one willful violation and seven serious violations. It will have to answer to these citations by either complying and paying the fines, challenging them or requesting a meeting with OSHA representatives.
No matter what the outcome of any interaction with OSHA may be, the family of the worker who died is likely entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits on his behalf. These benefits may help offset the loss of family income due to no longer receiving the worker’s salary, as well as cover funeral expenses and other associated costs. Those here in Minnesota who are unsure of their rights may want to talk to an attorney who is well-versed in workers’ compensation law.