Spike in workplace fatalities during calendar year 2016 and why stiffer employer penalties are needed in Michigan.
The Detroit News published an article discussing a spike in workplace fatalities during 2016. Forty-three people were killed on-the-job last year and this is the highest number in a decade. Federal workers and the self-employed were not included in this statistic and the number is actually much higher. Falls were the leading cause of death representing about 50%.
We have blogged about workplace fatalities on several different occasions. Employee safety does not seem to be a high priority for our elected representatives in Lansing. Civil fines are some of the lowest in the nation. Criminal penalties are limited to a maximum of 1 year in prison. Stiffer penalties are needed to punish companies who believe profits are more important than people.
Survivor benefits under workers’ compensation are also woefully inadequate. Families of individuals killed on-the-job are entitled to just $6,000 for burial expenses. Wage loss benefits are paid for 500 weeks but only to qualifying relatives. A spouse must prove factual dependency and income from another source can be a disqualifying factor. Children over the age of 16 must also prove factual dependency. Benefits typically end when the child turns 18. Pain and suffering is not available even if the company was negligent.
MIOSHA has an online complaint form for workplace safety violations and health hazards. An employee can request his or her name be withheld from the employer. We encourage anyone with concerns to speak up as this can save a life.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by julian-.