You can’t put a price tag on human life. (Well, unless you’re an insurance company.) The financial impact of non-compliance on employers can be huge, from a $110 million fine for environmental violations to a $1.7 million HIPAA related fine. But this post covers a more personal story involving the loss of a human life and the impact of non-compliance on a family.
This true story revolves around a young man who was working at a construction site in Texas. This young worker lost his life after dirt collapsed on him when he jumped in a hole to clear debris. This tragic incident reminds us of the serious and high-risk nature of many workplaces.
The Cause of the Accident
According to OSHA, workers at the site were not properly protected from cave-ins while working in the 6-foot trench, which lacked stairways, ramps or ladders to allow a safe means of getting in and out. Thus leaving workers exposed to ‘slip and fall hazards regressing in and out of a trench greater than five feet deep’. When equipment hit a sewer line there was no time for the young worker to get out of the trench before the hole caved in on him, ending his young life. OSHA issued a $7,600 fine to the company responsible for the violation.
The Impact of Non-Compliance on Family
When an accident like this occurs, the immediate family suffers emotionally, mentally and financially. Relationships are affected, mostly negatively. Family members can suffer from emotional stress, financial pressure and physical isolation. There can be a ripple effect touching parties outside the immediate circle. Isolation of the family may occur from lack of understanding by others towards the injuries, illness or resulting mood swings. A drop in income as a result of the incident can create a significant lifestyle change.
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In a recent report, a close family member said the deceased young worker didn’t receive any training and entered the hole unsupervised without any shoring.
Preventable Actions Through Occupational Health & Safety Training
Workplace accidents occur more often than we may think, and many times as a result of known hazards ignored, unsafe work practices, non-compliance with OSHA safety standards, lack of safety awareness and training. Injuries and deaths can be dramatically reduced if employers review safety hazards on a regular basis with employees, and provide workers with proper tools and training. A safer workplace is in the hands of the employer.