The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published workplace fatality statistics for 2016 showing a 7-percent increase from 2015. Within this increase, workplace violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased 23 percent to become the second-most common fatal event in 2016. This increase represents an additional 163 cases to 866 in 2016. Workplace homicides increased by 83 cases to 500 in 2016, and workplace suicides increased by 62 to 291. This is the highest homicide figure since 2010. These statistics are a grim reminder that employers need to be proactive about workplace violence issues. In an earlier blog, we discussed OSHA guidance on workplace violence which can be accessed at: http://oshachronicle.com/2017/06/06/osha-and-workplace-violence
There are some OSHA lessons to be learned and things to think about from the recent Third Department case in Silvestri v. New York City Transit Authority, 2017 N.Y Slip Op 06123 (August 10, 2017). In Silvestri, the Third Department affirmed a decision by the Workers’ Compensation Board that the widow of a deceased employee working at the Transit Authority was entitled to benefits because there was substantial evidence that the decedent’s injuries and ensuing death were attributable to an accident that arose out of and in the course of his employment.
The problem was that there were no witnesses to the accident and the employee did not report it. Instead, he went home and told his wife that he had fallen off a ladder and into the “pit” at work. The decedent went to the hospital and was diagnosed with fractured ribs, was given painkillers and sent home. Three days later he went back to the hospital and was diagnosed with a ruptured spleen and a punctured lung and was admitted but died the next day following complications from “blunt impact injuries.”
The court found that testimony of a supervisor that he had witnessed the decedent holding his stomach and indicating that he was not feeling well the day after the accident combined with the declarations of the deceased employee to his wife concerning the accident presented sufficient evidence that the accident occurred in the course of employment. (more…)