Sunday, June 21, 2009

When is a fatality not a fatality?

As I stated in my previous post, I was able to get OSHA to recognize that the ultimate cause of the fatality was a MRSA infection. I was talking with a colleague this week who is a stickler for statistics, he pointed out an interesting fact; I am probably the first and only (to the best os his knowledge, my knowledge, and an internet search we did together) safety person/accident investigator in the United States to show that a fatality not a fatality.

This is the reason my clients call me in when things go bad. They should not be penalized for things that are not their fault. All to often the tragedy overshadows the facts. I have had a former police officer who now works with insureds to fight work comp fraud tell me that I was the best accident investigator he ever saw.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Taken from:

Fall from scaffold causes serious injury and worker dies in hospital

A construction worker who was seriously injured in a fall from scaffolding on a London site in February is thought to have died in hospital from MRSA.

The workman engaged by Ramport Scaffolding on a new homes site in Islington, London was taken to the Royal London Hospital with “life-threatening injuries” on 18 February and is believed to have died in hospital on 19 May.

Contract Journal report one source as saying: “He didn’t die of his injuries. It actually looks like he caught MRSA while in hospital.” HSE is investigating the fall and subsequent death.

This article was posted on 3rd June 2009 in Latest News.
PP Construction Safety H&S Assistance and Consultancy service.


2 years ago I investigated a fatality for another staffing company that had an employee die after a fall at a client's facility. The ultimate outcome was that my investigation showed OSHA the employee did not die as a result of his injuries, but from a MRSA infection while in the hospital.

I reasoned that if an injured employee was off of work due to his injuries and he dies in a fire at a rehab center while receiving therapy, or if a bus hits him as he walks to his mail box to get his workers' comp check, that NEITHER can be considered a work related fatality.

OSHA accepted my conclusions and as a result the injury was not counted as a fatality against the other staffing company. The fines were about $1000 for some training records not up to date. The workers' comp carrier also agreed and subrogated against the hospital for a portion of medical expenses and the settlement paid out.

It was an unfortunate event the loss of life, but this did not have to happen. The company was also not unfairly blamed for the death. This also shows the benefits of having a solid accident investigation program in place and how the conclusions can run wild if left to someone else.

This also shows a valuable tool that many times gets a bad rap; outsourcing. The other staffing company had an accident investigation policy in place, but they realized that their safety person, although competent was not prepared for a fatality investigation, and especially one that was full of complexities as this one was (details that I will not go in to).

This also shows the value of acting immediately to preserve evidence. I was on site the next day beginning the investigation. It took OSHA 2 more days after I was already there to get out to the site. Do not think that I am disparaging OSHA in any way, because I am not! They do a very good job of protecting the workers in our country, and they respond very quickly. They are understaffed though and have a set list of priorities that they have to follow, and this particular region is very "active" for them.

My response was immediate, the other staffing company has great concern for the safety of all their employees, and along with the ramifications of the seriousness of this accident, the most prudent thing was for me to be there immediately.