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Montana contractor may be cited in roofer's death


Construction work can be very hazardous. Statistically, falls are the leading cause of fatal accidents in the construction industry. Roofing workers are among the most at risk. Recently the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it would issue a citation to a Missoula roofing and remodeling contractor for not reporting a fatal fall at a worksite within eight hours, as required by law. The company has been cited in the past for unsafe working conditions.

The victim, a 51-year-old man, was killed when he fell from a height of nine feet earlier this month at a jobsite in Florence. The employer did not report the accident to OSHA until the next day. OSHA's regional director has informed the employer that they will likely be receiving a citation. He noted that failing to report a fatal accident in a timely fashion makes it harder to conduct the OSHA investigation.

When a worker is killed in a construction site accident, surviving family members have the right to collect workers' compensation death benefits under Montana law. The death benefit is intended to compensate the family for the loss of the deceased worker's financial support.

An employer who pays workers' compensation benefits is immune from a civil lawsuit for the accident. When the accident is the fault of someone on the job site other than the victim's employer, however, the family has the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against that party. Such third party actions are not unusual in construction accidents, where employees of several sub-contractors, representing different trades, are working at the site.

Source: Billings Gazette, "OSHA to cite Missoula roofing company after worker's death," Perry Backus, April 17, 2014

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