This is a question that far too many families here in Arizona and elsewhere are forced to ask every year when their loved ones are killed while on the job. Some construction accidents happen despite the best efforts of companies and workers. However, an alarming proportion of them should never have happened in the first place.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is already saying that one construction accident in which a 24-year-old man was killed was more than likely preventable. Two buildings were being renovated and made into one large building when the building collapsed on top of the victim. Many people in the community want to know how it happened.
The city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where the tragedy occurred, is no longer involved in the investigation. Representatives did say, however, that the construction company that was renovating the building only acquired a permit to renovate one of the two buildings. It had not yet applied for, or acquired, a permit to begin knocking down the wall between the two buildings. If the company had made such an application, the city says it would have done an assessment first to be sure that it was safe to do so.
While OSHA investigators do their job, the family of the deceased worker mourns their loss. Surviving family members might also be wondering whether they are eligible for death benefits, just as Arizona families could be after deadly construction accidents here. Beyond those benefits, however, is the possibility of seeking restitution from other parties, including the company if the evidence documents that a company's actions or failure to act constituted gross negligence. With so many unanswered questions, it would be beneficial to enlist the advice and guidance of a workers' compensation attorney.
Source: ksfy.com, "OSHA investigating Hultgren Construction in building collapse", Bridget Bennett, Dec. 5, 2016