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Preventable Worker Deaths – The Workers’ Comp Blog

broken window and fallen, shattered glass with view of power lines in a field

Some of the most tragic deaths that occur on the job are so horrible because they could have been easily prevented. Just last year, one of these occurred in Atlanta, Georgia at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. Although you may be expecting a story about someone killed while doing renovations on some of the rooms or a worker falling out of a window that had cracked, this is simultaneously a much tamer and yet even more horrifying story. One of the female hotel workers walked into the large freezer to retrieve something and became stuck, resulting in her freezing to death.

The 61-year-old woman was found after an estimated thirteen hours spent inside the large, walk-in freezer in the hotel. While walk-in freezer doors are mandated to have latches that can open from the outside, these can sometimes malfunction and I can tell you from personal experience that there are not many things as terrifying as knowing you are stuck in there without knowing if anyone can hear you trying to get back out. Safety inspectors are now calling for a panic button to be installed in these freezers which would alert someone at the hotel as well as emergency personnel to the event.

Unfortunately, this will not help those who have already passed such as this woman. It is unclear whether or not the hotel knew that she was missing, but it wasn’t until her husband called out of concern with her failure to return home that they looked at security footage and found her in the freezer which had been set for ten degrees below Fahrenheit. A spokeswoman for the hotel said that two days before the incident, the door had been tested around 30 times and opened each time. However, around a month after the tragedy, a worker and an OSHA representative tested the door and allowed themselves to be closed into the freezer when it malfunctioned. They had to pound on the door to be let out.

If a loved one has been killed on the job with something so preventable, do not hesitate to call Collier. We extend our deepest sympathies and truly wish to do all we can to get you the compensation you deserve for the life of your family member. We know that it isn’t the same as having them back, but you have been through enough and deserve to have someone else take care of these issues while you grieve.