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Entries in construction accident (3)

Tuesday
Apr112017

No Excuses: Preventing Construction Site Accidents and Remembering the Dead

Injury AttorneyWrongful Death Attorney

by Thomas Cecil

(818) 907-3292

 

With Spring comes not only warmer weather, a change in time, and the start of baseball, but a return of construction projects as builders begin another season of home and commercial building. 

  Construction Accident Lawyer
In its 2017 Dodge Construction Outlook, Dodge Data & Analytics predicts U. S. construction starts for 2017 will grow five percent to $713 billion after gains of 11 percent and 1 percent in 2015 and 2016 respectively. “Single family housing will rise 12 percent in dollars, corresponding to a 9 percent increase in units to 795,000 (Dodge basis). Commercial building will increase six percent on top of the 12 percent gain estimated for 2016.” 

According to the U. S. Census bureau, February, 2017 housing starts for privately-owned housing were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,288,000, a three percent rise over February, 2016 period. In California, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the construction industry employed 783,000 in February, 2017. 

This increase in construction work unfortunately comes with a steep price: construction-related injuries and death. According to the latest BLS data, there were 4,836 fatal workplace injuries, or 13 per day, in 2015. Private construction suffered the highest number with 937 fatalities. 

“The leading causes of private sector worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry were falls [364 out of 937], followed by struck by object [90], electrocution [81], and caught-in/between [67].”

Preventing these four causes of death would save 602 construction workers’ lives annually. 

Memorial Day for Construction & Other Workers

Slip-Fall AttorneyFirst recognized in the United States in 1989 to honor workers who died or suffered from exposure to hazards at work, Workers’ Memorial Day is observed annually on April 28. The motto for this occasion is “Remember the dead – Fight for the living.” And as noted on the CDC website, “Occupational injuries and illnesses have broad social and economic impacts on workers and their families, on employers, and on society as a whole.” 

The economic burden of fatal worker injuries alone has been estimated to be $6 Billion. Workers’ Memorial Day is supported by trade unions, including the AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, California Labor Federation and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

To raise awareness to safety and reduce construction site injuries and deaths, both private and government sectors hold annual outreach safety programs. The 2017 Safety Week is scheduled for May 1-5, and is intended to encourage construction companies to host Safety Week “as a way to refocus and reenergize our commitment to reducing injuries on jobsites.”    

Fatal Falls

On May 8, 2017, OSHA kicks off its 4th annual National Fall Prevention Stand-Down program to prevent fatal falls in construction. As noted, construction site deaths from falls are the leading cause of construction site fatalities, yet they are largely preventable. OSHA’s Fall Prevention website provides a wealth of information including for ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts and roofs, to help employers and workers prevent worksite fall hazards.    

OSHA emphasizes, “[e]mployers must train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they'll be using on the job.” 

A 2017 study in Accident Analysis and Prevention highlights the entirely preventable fall dangers construction workers face – 42 percent of construction fatalities were from falls with the highest incidence of fall fatalities among those age 25-44 years old. Unsurprisingly, roofers had the highest incidence of fatalities from falls at 78 percent and three out of four fatalities from falls were concentrated in the roofing, siding and sheet metal industries. 

Highlighting the need for on the job safety training, workers on the job less than one week were at a higher risk of dying from a fall than longer term employees. Half of all deaths from falls in construction occurred with employers with 20 or fewer employees. 

Despite OSHA requirements for guardrails and toeboards (29 CFR 1926.502) and personal fall arrest systems, (29 CFR 1926.501(b)(4)(i)), the study found that 70 percent of those killed from falls in residential construction, roofing,  siding and sheet metal industries had no access to a personal fall arrest system, and guardrails were not installed on most of the fall incident sites studied.   

Construction Injury Liability

Dangerous Property Lawyer
A motto of the 2017 National Safety Stand-Down campaign is “Safety Pays -Falls Cost”. Failure to provide fall protection which leads to injury or death is inexcusable. Whether liability is imposed through workers compensation law or the general law of negligence, an injured person is entitled to be made whole through just monetary compensation, including recovery of medical expenses, past and future earnings, and under negligence law, the human damages of pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and dignity. 

 

Thomas Cecil is a Shareholder in our Personal Injury Practice Group.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Mar142012

Big Rig Truck, Motorcycle, Construction Zone - Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful Death Attorney 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

In our practice we deal with tragic accidents all too often.  While many people are significantly injured or sometimes killed in auto v. auto accidents, the most violent injuries occur in motorcycle accidents, big rig trucking accidents, and on construction sites.  And when all three are involved– it’s almost always deadly.

We were recently involved in such a case.  We represented a wonderful family who tragically lost their son when his motorcycle collided with a big rig truck.  The family was extremely close, and the loss was devastating for all of them.  

The accident occurred when the truck turned left out of a parking lot and entered the path of travel of our clients’ son.  He did not have time to react and his motorcycle collided with the truck, killing him.  The devastation was compounded by the fact that the investigating officer found our clients’ son – the motorcyclist – at fault for the accident.

The family came to us seeking answers.  They couldn’t understand how the accident could be their son’s fault when he was just proceeding straight when this truck blocked his right of away causing the accident. In reviewing the police report, the truck was turning left out of a parking lot across north bound traffic to head south.  The officer concluded that the trucker had entered the roadway and had essentially taken over the right of way from north bound traffic before finishing the turn to head south bound.

We immediately went to the scene of the accident to investigate, and noticed some very important factors: 

Van Nuys Wrongful Death1. The truck was not turning out of a typical driveway, it was turning out from a construction site.  This is very important because contractors and sub-contractors have strict regulations that need to be followed regarding safety.  Once in litigation, discovery showed that the truck driver was hauling material off of the job site. 

2.  Also, the driveway the trucker was turning out of was at the end of a sweeping curve.  When we put ourselves in his position, it was very difficult to see any traffic coming from his left to ever know if it was safe to turn.

Construction Site Safety

 

Safety is paramount to each and every construction project.  These safety requirements start with the State of California Construction Safety Orders established by CAL-OSHA.  These Orders establish minimum safety standards whenever employment exists in connection with the construction of any fixed structure.

The general contractor on any site is responsible for the overall safety of the jobsite and work environment.  Each contractor and worker involved in a construction project relies on the general contractor to establish the environment, framework and protocols within which they will work. 

Regardless of the general contractor’s responsibilities, however, each supporting contractor (e.g., a grading contractor) and equipment operator (e.g., the truck driver) is responsible for the safety of its own operations and equipment.  It is the responsibility of the general contractor to make sure each such supporting contractor and equipment operator is carrying out duties safely and complying with all safety protocols, rules and regulations.

The most glaring safety violations in relation to this tragic accident were the lack of signs and flaggers to notify and control traffic along the roadway adjacent to the construction site.  The use of warning signs and flaggers were required by CAL-OSHA Sections 1598 and 1599 when hazards exist because of traffic or haulage conditions at work sites that encroach upon public streets or highways.  Other standards required or recommended the use of flaggers as well, including: 

  • The Work Area Traffic Control Handbook (WATCH Manual)
  • Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
  • Manual of Accident Prevention for Construction (MAPC)

The use of flaggers and flagging has become a highly recognizable and important safety component of construction activity.  Because construction activity is temporary in nature, it calls for unexpected and unusual traffic to be moving on and off of the site. 

The large size of the vehicles that tend to be moving on and off of the site also added to the need for flaggers, as the vehicles require extra time to move across the roadway.  The need for flaggers in this situation was compounded by the large sweeping curve that made it more difficult for the trucker to see oncoming traffic, and difficult for our client's son and other drivers to see the truck exiting the parking lot.

Notwithstanding all of the regulations, standards, and industry practice related to signage and flaggers, the Defendants (including the truck driver and involved contractors), failed to provide any protection for motorists.  Once all of this information came out through litigation, the Defendants settled the case prior to a trial.

The settlement was an important step for the family on their road to recovering from this tragedy.  As we see time and again, such simple and obvious safety standards, if followed, would have prevented a tragic death.

David B. Bobrosky is a Wrongful Death Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com. 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

 

Thursday
Jan262012

Roof Hatch Injury at Popular Mall

Injury AttorneyPersonal Injury Attorney

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

Many times dangerous conditions or negligent conduct could be easily avoided if a defendant did not put profits above safety. /p>

As part of a continuing series of articles on the Lewitt Hackman Personal Injury Blog, Lewitt Hackman attorneys will identify dangerous conditions or conduct from cases we have handled in the past, and how the conditions or conduct could have been avoided. Below is such a case.

 

A Dangerous Roof Hatch – The Problem

 

Our 20 year old client was working for a theatre complex at a popular local mall. One day he was instructed by his boss to escort a security guard to the roof so he could provide access for an air conditioning service worker.

The only way to the roof was to climb a 24 foot steel wall ladder to the top, where he then had to unlock the roof hatch and exit the hatch onto the roof. Our client successfully climbed the ladder and unlocked the hatch.

Next came the difficult part. The ladder stopped at the level of the roof. Typically, a ladder is required to extend approximately three feet above the level of a landing to allow the person climbing the ladder to get his or her whole body above the level of a landing and then safely step off.

This is a photo of the roof hatch depicting this problem:

Because the ladder stopped at the level of the roof, our client had to use his arms to try to pull himself out of the hatch and onto the roof. Unfortunately, our client could not do so and he fell 24 feet straight down. He shattered his leg, and eventually underwent a total of seven surgeries on his knee and ankle.

The Solution – Installing Safe Ladder Extensions or Rails

 

The builders of the mall could not extend the actual ladder three feet above the roof because the hatch would not be able to close. However, there were several other inexpensive solutions to this problem.

At the time the building was designed, there were several items that could have been attached to the outside of the hatch to act as a ladder extension or hand rail to assist a climber safely onto the roof. One was even aptly sold under the name of “Save a Life Ladder Extension.” Below is a photograph of one of these possible solutions:

At the time the building was constructed, there was a possible conflict between the federal and state regulations in terms of requiring an extension above the landing on the roof. However, through thorough investigation and discovery, our office tracked down all prior versions of the specifications manual. An early version of the manual included just such an extension.

In an apparent attempt to save costs, the extensions were removed from the final design specifications. Essentially our client suffered severe injuries because a company wanted to save a few hundred dollars.

Fortunately for our client, we successfully resolved the case prior to trial.  He received compensation for his past medical expenses and loss of wages, as well as for his future medical care. This was just another example of a company putting profits ahead of safety.

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Injury Attorney and Shareholder at Our Firm. You may reach him by e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

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