Airport Worker Crushed To Death At O’Hare Airport
OSHA is investigating an incident involving an airline mechanic who was crushed to death by heavy machinery. The man was found unresponsive beneath heavy machinery. He was later pronounced dead. A medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was crush injuries related to an “aircraft driveable pushback apparatus”—a vehicle that is hitched to aircraft and can literally push them back. They are about the same size as a Jeep. The death was ruled an accident. OSHA has six months from the date of the death to issue safety citations.
Well, that’s the problem. No one really knows what happened. The man was found beneath the large vehicle, diagnosed with crush injuries, and those crush injuries ultimately led to his death. At the moment, OSHA is gathering as much information as they can about the circumstances surrounding the man’s death, but there are, apparently, no witnesses. The aircraft drivable pushback apparatus will be torn apart to determine if it malfunctioned somehow. The general environment of the slain workers’ employer will also be analyzed.
OSHA can help determine whether or not the employer was responsible or contributed negligence to the death. However, the family would not be able to sue the employer to recover damages. Nonetheless, the mechanic worked for a third-party who performed mechanic work for the airplane. That means that if O’Hare is faulted with the negligence, the family can sue the airport.
OSHA will also likely determine if there was anything wrong with the airplane tractor. If the tractor is responsible for the man’s death, then the manufacturer of the tractor can be sued. If no other parties contributed negligence, the family will have to file a death benefits claim with the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.
OSHA will help determine which direction this case will go. If OSHA fines violations contributed by O’Hare are responsible for the man’s death, the O’Hare will be liable. If the manufacturer of the tractor is responsible, then the lawsuit will be filed against them. If neither are responsible, the plaintiff is responsible, or the plaintiff’s company is responsible, then the plaintiffs will have to file a death benefits claim on the workers’ compensation policy.
Nonetheless, the worker himself will also be analyzed. It doesn’t make sense that a fully conscious man ends up underneath a Jeep-sized airport vehicle. These things are designed so flat that there’s almost no chance of them flipping over. So, there may be a chance he had a medical event while on the job. Heat stroke, for example, could cause someone to lose consciousness and end up beneath an airport vehicle.
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