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Investigation into garage worker's death during Sandy

Employees place a certain level of trust in their employers when they come to work. Since employees spend a significant amount of time at work, they likely trust that their workplace will not be too dangerous. For some Maryland workers, this may mean trusting that one's employer has kept up to date with fire codes and safety regulations. For other employees, this trust may apply to a short period of time in which one's safety could be endangered.

Storms are an example of a short-term event that may create a more dangerous work environment. For instance, New Yorkers watched Hurricane Sandy bring about extreme amounts of destruction last year. The hurricane also took the lives of 43 people-including one man who was at work when he died.

Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating this man's death. He worked in an underground garage in Manhattan and died there when the garage flooded. According to The New York Times, the investigation will probably primarily look into which exits were available to the man.

The front entrance to the garage was reportedly closed and sandbagged in preparation for the storm. The man's manager allegedly told him to exit through an inner staircase with a propped-open door if necessary. It is unclear if the door closed, locking him in the underground garage.

If OSHA determines that the man's employer did not follow safety guidelines and that he lost his life as a result, the employer could face fines and citations. This type of incident demonstrates the significance of workplace safety. If a person works in a setting which endangers his or her life, the employer may be held responsible for employee injuries or deaths.

Source: The New York Times, "OSHA says it is investigating garage employee's drowning," J. David Goodman, Dec. 20, 2012

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