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Man dies in sugar plant 13 days after removal of safety device

A New Jersey man died while working as a temporary employee at a sugar plant in Pennsylvania. Before his death, the 50-year-old man had been digging in clumpy sugar that was clogging a hopper. According to the warehouse manager, he had made repeated complaints to upper management about the potential dangers workers faced while unclogging the sugar hopper.

The fatal workplace accident at the sugar plant happened in February 2013. Before his death, the man and other workers had been bagging sugar that would be destined for companies like Snapple and Ben & Jerry's. When sugar started to clog the hopper, the man climbed inside the machine to break up the granules. Sometime during the course of his work, the man fell into the sugar and suffocated.

The sugar plant death is one of several recent accidents that have caused the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to take more action against agencies that hire out untrained temporary workers without properly assessing potential workplace dangers. According to OSHA, a safety screen that could have saved the man at the sugar plant was removed 13 days before his death for financial reasons.

Families who have experienced the death of a loved one in a similar workplace accident often choose to file a workers' compensation claim. The spouse, parents or children of the deceased worker are entitled to seek compensation for funeral costs and loss of income that the worker would have earned. An attorney may be able to assist a family in this situation by helping them to prepare and file their claim.

Source: ProPublica, "Sugar Plant Removed Safety Device 13 Days before Temp Worker’s Death", Michael Grabell, July 06, 2014

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