Workplace fatalities in MD: Top causes and tips for family members

Family members of a worker who is killed while on-the-job may qualify for workers' compensation dependent benefits.

Workplace injuries that result in the death of the worker are not uncommon. In fact, the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set aside a day every year to commemorate these deaths. The agency honors these deaths on April 28 th. The day is meant to serve two purposes: first, to honor the lost worker and their family members; second, to call for increased safety measures to reduce the risk of similar accidents in the future.

How does Maryland honor workers that have died while on-the-job?

Every state holds an event on this day of commemoration. The most recent local event was held at the William W. Winpisinger Education Technology Center in Hollywood, Maryland. The event included a speech by OSHA on efforts made at the federal level to reduce these accidents.

The agency notes that part of OSHA's efforts to reduce workplace accidents includes educational efforts. One such effort involves calling attention to common causes of workplace fatalities. Most recent reports show that the top four causes of workplace fatalities are:

  • Falls. Although this type of injury is commonly associated with construction workers, roofers and carpenters, it is important to note that anyone working at any height can suffer an injury from a fall.
  • Struck by object. This type of accident involves getting hit by an object or piece of equipment. In this type of accident the impact is the direct cause of the injury.
  • Electrocution. Any exposure to a lethal amount of electricity fits within this category.
  • Caught-in or between. This involves an event where a worker gets stuck in between two objects.

These accidents are so common that they are referred to by the agency as the "fatal four." These four types of accidents alone account for 64.2 percent of all fatal accidents in 2015.

What options are there for family members who lose a loved one due to a workplace accident?

In some cases, Maryland state law provides for workers' compensation benefits to the dependents of an employee who is killed while on-the-job. These benefits are designed to help provide support for the dependents and can include funeral expenses.

Receiving these benefits generally requires completion of a Dependents Claim for Death Benefits Form. This form requires various pieces of information, including the relationship with the deceased, the cause of injury and an authorization for disclosure of health information. The form also states that the Workers' Compensation Commission may reject the request for a wide range of reasons, including a failure to properly fill out the form, an improper description of the loved one's death and insufficient information about the employer at the time of death.

Those who find themselves navigating this situation are wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney can help to better ensure the form is filled out correctly or can appeal a denial if the workers' compensation provider fails to provide you with the benefits you are entitled to receive.