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Workers' compensation death benefits may be sought after fatality

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict regulations to prevent workplace accidents in confined spaces. Sadly, many of the workers' compensation death benefits claims that are filed in Florida and other states every year follow fatal on-the-job injuries suffered in confined areas. Otis Elevators was recently cited for serious safety violations that led to the death of a service mechanic on Feb. 17.

According to OSHA, investigators determined that the safety violations, in this case, repeated those for which the company was also cited in Nov. 2015. Reportedly, Otis has its own regulations related to confined spaces, which allow workers to work in elevator shafts for 15 minutes without tagging out the elevator. This seems to have been what caused the 2015 fatality and also the death of the 60-year-old service mechanic in February.

OSHA cleared Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare -- which is where the fatal incident occurred -- from all responsibility for the death of the worker, saying noncompliance of OTIS caused it. Reportedly, surveillance footage shows the work on the elevator commenced shortly before 5 a.m., and the last time he could be seen was at about 5:15 a.m. His death was discovered around 6:15 a.m. after people who used the elevator pushed the emergency button because the car got stuck between the ground and first floors.

Any Florida family who has to cope with the financial consequences of a loved one's on-the-job death can pursue financial relief through the workers' compensation insurance program. Although this system endeavors to provide for grieving families and injured workers, the process can be complicated. The slightest error can cause the denial or rejection of a claim. The best chance of successfully navigating a benefits claim may be with the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

Source: tallahassee.com, "Feds cite elevator company in death at TMH", Karl Etters, Aug. 14, 2017

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