Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler

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Fatal Raleigh accident a reminder of risks of construction work

One of the dangers to workers at a construction site is the risk being struck by falling objects. Sometimes, the risk is that what falls may be the workers themselves. That is what happened when scaffolding collapsed during the construction of a commercial building in Raleigh, North Carolina, resulting in the deaths of three workers for a subcontractor on the project and seriously injuring a fourth.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Division as well as police officials have been examining the accident scene, but the cause of the collapse is not yet known. Nor is it known whether all of the workers who fell about 200 feet to the ground were using all required safety equipment at the time of the accident, although the sole survivor was found wearing a full harness and lanyard apparatus.

Dependents of North Carolina workers who die as a result of construction accidents are entitled to survivor benefits, which as a general rule amount to two-thirds of the deceased worker's average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks. The governing statute can be complicated to interpret, and is subject to certain exceptions and variations.

Every year in this state a day will arrive on which some workers will leave home for their place of employment, not knowing that it will be their last day. Although there is no way to prevent all fatal workplace accidents, what happened in this case appears to be a highly relevant, albeit tragic, example of why workers' compensation benefits take into account not only injured or disabled workers, but also those whom they leave behind if their accident or work-related illness prove fatal.

Source: WRAL, "3 dead, 1 injured in downtown Raleigh construction accident," Brian Shrader, Monica Laliberte, Laura Leslie, March 24, 2015

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