On May 7, 2012, OSHA announced that it issued a willful citation to a Lancaster, Massachusetts packaging manufactuer in connection with the death of a company employee. The OSHA citation alleged 12 safety violations. The incident happened last November, 2011. The employee was operating a corrugated box-making machine when he became entangled in an unguarded drive shaft that runs the machine. According to OSHA, the machine lacked proper protection that would prevent workers from being exposed to its moving parts.
“This case starkly shows the grave consequences from unguarded moving machine parts,” said Mary Hoye, OSHA’s area director for central and western Massachusetts. “Proper safeguards could have prevented the needless and tragic loss of a worker’s life.”
In cases involving serious and willful misconduct by the employer, the injured employee may be entitled to “double compensation” both for weekly benefits paid or payable to the employee and medical expenses paid by the workers compensation insurer. The “double compensation” penalty under MGL c. 152, s. 28 is meant to serve as a self-policing statute to encourage employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees in compliance with federal and state safety regulations and accepted industry safety standards. If Section 28 benefits are ordered by the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, the workers compensation insurer is responsible for paying the benefits. The insurer, however, may seek reimbursement from the employer for the double compensation penalty.
If you or a loved one have been injured at work, contact Attorney John Sheehan for a free, no obligation consultation. In addition to Massachusetts workers compensation benefits, you may be entitled to additional benefits such as Section 28 benefits discussed above or, possibly, compensation through a third-party claim if your work injury was caused by the negligent acts or omissions of a third-party.