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Company fined after fatal workplace accident

Fatal workplace accidents in North Carolina are tragic for the families, the other workers and the company. While no one plans to die on the job, it is an unfortunate part of some dangerous jobs.

This past summer, two construction workers were killed in a workplace accident. The men were helping to build a new section of a water system and had been lowered into an 11-foot manhole.

Recently, the North Carolina Department of Labor issued citations against the men's employer which found that the deaths were caused by suffocation.

The state concluded that the men's work was not properly supervised. They found that the hole was not correctly tested before the men entered, the men did not have proper breathing equipment and the company did not have proper equipment or procedures for rescuing the men when trouble developed. The company was fined $16,000 under the state's Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina.

The men were apparently dropped in the hole to retrieve a plug needed on another site. A third worker had dropped them off at the site and returned 30 or 45 minutes later to find that the two men had died.

Authorities believe the first man was lowered into the hole and lost consciousness. The other man went down the hole to rescue him, but was also suffocated.

This wasn't the first time the victims' employer was fined. Since 1997, they have been fined almost 40 times.

In the case of fatal workplace accidents, it is important to learn exactly what occurred and who was involved. The family of the victims may be able to collect compensation for their tragic loss. Working with an experienced workers' compensation attorney may prove to be helpful.

Source: News & Observer, "Fines levied in worker deaths," Jay Price, Nov. 23, 2011

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