Overview: Regardless of whether an employee dies at work or away from work, an employer must be prepared to handle the situation. Employers should have a plan in place before such an event occurs.
When an employee dies at work, there are many things an employer needs to do. Generally, an at-work fatality must be reported to federal OSHA, or a state branch if the workplace is located in a state with its own OSH plan, within eight hours of the event. If the death was the result of an accident, there should be an investigation to determine what caused the accident and how it can be avoided in the future. If the death was caused by something outside of the employer's control, such as a heart attack, workplace procedures should still be evaluated to ensure the employer took the best possible measures to save the employee. For instance:
No matter where the death took place, the employer should arrange support and counseling for its employees. Arrangements should also be made to support the deceased employee's family and to ensure the family properly receives the employee's last paycheck and any other benefits or compensation to which the employee is entitled.
Trends: Stress and unhealthy living have led to an increase in heart related deaths, especially for women. Offering a wellness program can help employees get healthier and live longer.
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect US Department of Labor (DOL) regulations concerning the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Updated to reflect an amendment regarding claims involving mental impairment, effective July 1, 2018.
Updated to reflect an amendment relating to the smoking of marijuana in the workplace, effective July 31, 2017.
Updated to reflect amendments to the workers' compensation law, effective June 16, 2017.
Enhanced to improve the scope of coverage regarding billing disputes over responsibility for medical treatments, lien filing fees and lien filing process.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Florida employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to workers' compensation.
Updated to reflect paid family leave requirements, effective January 1, 2018.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Maine employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to workers' compensation.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Washington employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to workers' compensation.
HR guidance on preparing for and responding to employee death.