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OSHA: $400,000 fines after wall collapsed in work accident

Workers and employers in Wisconsin may be interested in the rulings of OSHA regarding a failed demolition of a building in another state. This work accident happened in June. Federal officials completed their investigations and finalized the citations on Thursday, Nov. 14.

The accident happened when workers of two construction companies were in the process of knocking down an unoccupied four-story building. The adjacent building was a store of the Salvation Army. At the time, there were multiple shoppers in the store. As they were working on knocking down a wall which was unsupported, it toppled over and smashed into the Salvation Army shop. This work accident caused the death of six people, while injuring more than twelve others.

These conspicuous contraventions of safety standards as prescribed by OSHA were cited and fines of almost $400,000 were proposed. These violations were categorized as willful and serious. Willful violations are violations committed with intent. They occur when there is knowledge of the requirements of the law but voluntary disregard thereof and total lack of concern for the safety and health of the employee or other civilians.

An assistant secretary at the Department of Labor said that no fatalities would have occurred had the employers only adhered to the most fundamental safety measures. The respective owners of the two companies involved may respond to the citations within 15 days. If residents of Wisconsin fall prey to a similar work accident, the families of the deceased and the injured have the right to file for workers' compensation survivor benefits. This could help alleviate any financial strain left by an unexpected death of a breadwinner.

Source: The New York Times, Pennsylvania: U.S. Proposes Fines in Deadly Building Collapse, No author, Nov. 14, 2013

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