It is always a tragedy when an Iowa employee dies on the job, no matter the circumstances. However, when questions about that event come up, the answers are not always readily available. One recent fatal incident at a medical facility required the assistance of a specialized police unit to determine what happened, because it was so unusual. Families of workers who die may have questions about whether they can still collect workers’ compensation benefits after such an atypical workplace accident.
The incident happened, according to reports, recently at a Veterans’ Affairs medical center out of state. It is unclear precisely what occurred, but early speculation pointed to a fire or explosion. The Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit came to the conclusion that a “pressure event,” involving very hot water vapor, was to blame. Essentially, employees were working on a steam system when something happened to cause it to release extremely hot steam into the area.
Two workers, one an employee and one a contractor, were unable to escape from the room where the system was located. They were killed, with other workers suffering mild injuries. It is likely that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be looking into what happened to determine if the companies these men worked for were at fault in any way.
The employee’s family is surely emotionally devastated at this terrible loss, and they may even find themselves struggling financially. The death of an worker can mean significant medical and funeral expenses for a family, not to mention the loss of that individual’s income. Fortunately, they may be able to file for workers’ compensation survivors’ benefits. Those here in Iowa who are in a similar situation can consult an attorney who has a high level of familiarity with this type of workplace benefit.