Tragedy struck a Las Vegas beauty salon – according to The Washington Post, aesthetician Chelsea Ake-Salvacion was found dead in the salon's cryotherapy chamber. For those of you who haven't heard about cryotherapy before, it's a walk-in device that subjects the body to temperatures of about -240 degrees Fahrenheit, and the report notes clients and athletes (LeBron James himself) use it to treat injuries and inflammation.
Despite the non-FDA approved and futuristic technology involved in the aesthetician's death, the story is just a variation on what business owners have known for centuries: sometimes a person's work can literally kill them, regardless of their occupation. In fact, OSHA reports that 4,679 workers were killed on the job in 2014 – approximately 13 deaths every day.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, in 2014, some common fatal work injuries were caused by:
- Transportation incidents.
- Violence and other injuries inflicted by people (e.g., assailants or robbers) or animals.
- Falls, slips, and trips.
- Falling objects and equipment.
The BLS also found that contracted workers continue to be an extremely susceptible group to work deaths, accounting for 17 percent of all occupational fatalities last year. Though over half of contracted workers were in construction, they can be found across all industries. (Related reading: "Hiring Temps This Year? Make Sure They're Safe.")
In other words: what happened to the salon employee could happen to your employees, just in different circumstances. Let's find out how Workers' Compensation Insurance can step in to help you and the survivors pick up the pieces.
Workers' Comp Coverage: A Way Forward after Accidents
You may already know that Workers' Compensation Insurance, a policy employers are required to carry in most states, offers coverage when employees are hurt at work and can help pay for:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost wages during recovery.
- Ongoing medical care or rehabilitation.
Some exceptions apply here – for example, if the employee was intoxicated or goofing around when the injury happened, they may not receive coverage for the incident (related: "5 Things Workers' Compensation Doesn't Cover"). Contracted workers may not qualify for coverage if they are independent contractors who carry their own coverage. But if an employee was hurt while carrying out their usual work functions, your policy can help them recover and hopefully return to work as soon as possible.
What you may not know is that when workers are fatally injured on the job, Workers' Comp policies may also offer coverage for:
- Burial and funeral expenses.
- Death benefits (i.e., support payments to dependents and surviving family members).
Some states may require your Workers' Comp coverage to include these benefits; others may not. Either way, they are worth looking into because they help relieve some of the financial burden from family members when an employee is struck down at work.
Those costs can be considerable, too: the National Funeral Directors Association reports the median cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial was about $7,181 in 2014. Offering this coverage is a sign of goodwill toward the affected family and may help dissuade them from suing your business over the accident that lead to their loved one's death.
Macabre as it may be to think about your employees being fatally hurt at work, it's something every employer must unfortunately plan for. You can learn more about funeral and death benefits in "Does Workers' Comp Include Funeral Insurance?"