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Update: Fatal workplace accident wasn't first safety concern

A couple weeks ago, we covered the story of a North Carolina man who died after becoming caught in a piece of industrial equipment. Immediately after the incident, state and federal workplace safety agencies began an investigation into the cabinet manufacturer's practices.

Although the full investigation is expected to take several months to complete, details have already emerged from the North Carolina Department of Labor. Since 2008, the employer in question, RSI Home Products, has been the subject of at least seven safety violations -- one of which was considered "serious."

Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations are standard protocol after such a serious workplace accident, yet the fact that the company has had previous violations is all the more reason to meticulously examine safety measures. Unfortunately, any reforms that take place cannot undo what happened in this recent incident.

In addition to potential safety lapses on the part of the employer, the OSHA investigation may reveal that a third party played a role in the accident. This could provide the victim's loved ones with the opportunity to hold additional parties accountable, which could help reduce the strain caused by the fatal accident.

By accepting workers' compensation death benefits, the victim's family may be waiving their right to pursue additional damages from the employer. This is just one example of how complex state workers' compensation laws can be. In the confusing days after a fatal accident, survivors may be able to find guidance from an attorney well-versed with the relevant laws and available legal options.

Source: Lincoln Times-News, "N.C. Dept. of Labor scrutinizing RSI after death," Jenna-Ley Harrison, March 6, 2013

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