Contributed by Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP
Serious workplace accidents can sometimes result in criminal charges against an employer. For example, in 2015, a construction worker died on the job when an unsecured trench he was working in collapsed in the Meatpacking District of New York. The state prosecuted two companies and two executives for causing the death.
Until recently, information about criminal cases involving workplace accidents was scattered. But now, anyone looking for details about criminal prosecutions involving companies and individuals charged with fatal on-the-job accidents and serious injuries can check a database.
The Center for Progressive Reform released a Crimes against Workers Database that serves as a valuable tool for safety advocates and others. According to an article in EHS Today, the first-of-its-kind database includes details about 75 incidents involving criminal charges in 16 states.
As workers' compensation attorneys in New York who strongly advocate for safety, we applaud CPR’s efforts to get the database up and running. The database can shed light on the scope of injuries and fatalities that occur on the job through the irresponsible actions of employers or individuals. Hopefully, the database will lead to meaningful reforms to protect employees.
Employers who try to cut corners must get the message that they will suffer the legal consequences if they fail to take adequate steps to protect their workers.
How the database works
The database allows users to search for a type of incident in a state over a specified date range. A user can also choose a specific type of criminal charge or code offense. The user can search for news articles, court decisions, advocacy materials and other materials.
CPR will expand the database by adding new cases and information. The public can help by notifying CPR of any new incidents or developments involving cases cataloged in the database.
As the EHS article reports, the database works as a valuable tool for prosecutors, advocates, the media and other parties. They can gather information about campaigns by advocates seeking criminal charges. Some but not all of the advocacy efforts resulted in charges.
CPR Executive Director Matthew Shudtz told EHS that thousands of people will lose their lives at work this year. Workplace deaths can be avoided, but sadly there are irresponsible employers who ignore rules and break the law.