The mother of a man has sharply criticized OSHA, a federal agency which oversees workplace safety in Arizona and throughout the country, after it fined a company only $68,000 for the company's role in a workplace accident that killed her son.
The mother's son died while on the job when a crane at his work site suddenly fell on him. The collapse also caused inflicted another serious work injury on one of the deceased man's colleagues.
Apparently, the worker's employer had not properly inspected a rope on the crane, causing problems with the machine that eventually led to a collapse. Another local government agency was scheduled to inspect the crane some time before the accident, but officials with that agency postponed the inspection because when they arrived, the crane was in operation.
One purpose of OSHA's administrative penalty is to punish an employer for failing to ensure workers' safety and to deter other employers from making the same mistakes. While is true that for larger companies, a fine of $68,000 would likely be a slap on the wrist, administrative agencies are constrained by laws, administrative regulations, and other factors. More importantly, the company's fine does not get paid to the worker or his or her family.
Had this accident taken place in Arizona, the worker's family might have recourse to Arizona's workers' compensation system, depending of course on the circumstances. Because every employer must provide some sort of workers' compensation for its employees, the family of a person killed in a workplace accident should be able to get some payoff to compensate them in some small way for their profound loss.
Source: New York Daily News, "Mom fumes at small fine in son's crane death", Greg B. Smith, Oct. 4, 2012