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OSHA Area Office Creates Brochure for Victims' Families

How to deal appropriately with surviving family members and friends after a worker dies on the job may be one of the most poignant challenges OSHA faces.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Ron Hayes and the organization he founded, Families In Grief Hold Together (F.I.G.H.T. Project), OSHA has taken steps in recent years to improve its responsiveness to the needs of victims' families.

The newest such effort comes out of OSHA's Englewood, Colo., area office, which has published a brochure specifically designed to provide helpful information to the family and friends of a worker killed on the job.

"It seemed to us that many times, families of victims are hungry for information and don't always know where to go to find it," explained John Healy, the director of the Englewood office. He said his office's decision to create the brochure arose after one of his employees saw a similar publication now being used in Australia.

Area directors routinely send letters to these families explaining the procedures of OSHA inspections, and now Healy includes with his letter a brochure filled with other information that may be helpful to grief-stricken families.

For example, the brochure explains the role of OSHA, the police and the coroner after a workplace fatality, and discusses death benefits that may be available from Social Security, the Veterans Administration and workers' compensation. The pamphlet also lists counseling services, such as F.I.G.H.T., and includes important telephone numbers and Web sites.

Hayes, who lost his own son in a workplace incident and who has sometimes criticized OSHA's treatment of victims' families, sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao praising the Colorado effort.

"I cannot tell you how much this will mean to the families this is the best show of compassion and respect of any secretary of Labor and staff," Hayes wrote. Hayes also expressed his hope that use of the brochure would spread beyond the Englewood office, to other OSHA offices and regions.

"I know other area directors in my region are looking at it," said Healy, who added he would happy to send a copy to any of his colleagues who are interested.

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