Legislation Workers' compensation

Indiana lawmaker introduces bill to increase penalties for worker deaths

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Indianapolis — Indiana Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne) has introduced legislation that would dramatically increase maximum fines for on-the-job fatalities.

The bill (H.B. 1341), introduced Jan. 7, would increase fines to $100,000 from $7,000 for each worker death resulting from an employer violating safety regulations. It also would remove the ability for employers to negotiate a reduced penalty issued by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration after such incidents.

Carbaugh introduced the bill on the one-year anniversary of the death of Shacarra Hogue, a 23-year-old factory worker who was fatality crushed by a press in Fort Wayne. A state investigation found that the company had removed safety features from the press so workers could climb into it, according to a report published Jan. 7 by Fort Wayne local news WPTA-TV. Hogue died when a co-worker started the machine as she stood inside it. IOSHA fined the company $6,300, and Hogue’s family was barred from taking civil action in court.

Carbaugh said he hopes the measure, which has support from Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) and the Indiana Manufacturers Association, and the potential new fines will make organizations stop and think before skirting safety rules.

“Hopefully, (with) a penalty such as this, they would think twice,” Carbaugh, who chairs the House Insurance Committee, told WPTA.

The bill has not been introduced in a committee yet.

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