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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.

Thursday
Dec082011

Walmart Black Friday Gets Black Eye: An Injury Attorney’s Opinion

Injury AttorneyPremises Liability Lawyer Los Angeles 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

Was it just a coincidence that most, if not all, of the reported violence by shoppers on Black Friday occurred at Walmart stores?  Absolutely not.  The incidents did not just occur AT Walmarts, they occurred BECAUSE OF Walmart.

I hate to admit it, but I was at several different stores before and after midnight on Black Friday.  What else is there to do in Surprise, Arizona?  I was there visiting family for Thanksgiving.  At the request of relatives, and because there was nothing else to do, we checked out the Black Friday scene.

We visited Best Buy, Toys R Us and Kohls all before the start of their Black Friday sales that night.  At every store, there were at least 300 people in line outside.  The people were all in orderly lines controlled by store employees and security guards.

At the start of the sales at these stores, the people were not sent running in to fight others for merchandise.  They were allowed to enter the store in groups to make sure only a certain number of people were in together.  Additionally, tickets were passed out to those in line for the most popular items.  This also helped control the situation.

All these stores were a stark contrast to Walmart.

 

The Walmart Black Friday Frenzy

 

When I arrived at the Walmart store in Arizona, I found an absolutely packed parking lot — yet no one in line outside.  When I entered the store, I found out why.  Rather than closing the store and having customers line up outside, Walmart stayed open and crammed everyone into the store at once.

Instead of forming lines or passing out tickets, Walmart employees set up pallets of items throughout the store.  The merchandise was shrink-wrapped on pallets and mobs of people surrounded each pallet waiting for the start of the sale.

A Walmart employee explained that at the start of each sale (some items went on sale at 10:00 p.m. and others at midnight), the items would be unwrapped and customers would be set loose to fight for the merchandise.  When I asked if the store ever considered the potential frenzy and injuries, I was told, “Yes, that’s why we have ‘medics’ walking around.  Just look for the Walmart employees with the red backpacks if you get hurt.”

You see, it was apparent to me that Walmart knew, or should have known, what could, and what most likely would, happen.  In fact, they appeared to be counting on it

Walmart did not want prospective customers to see long lines outside and think they had no chance at a deal. They wanted them in the store believing that anyone who fought hard enough, still had a chance to get that Walmart-priced Xbox, TV, or even the $2 waffle maker.  For those surprised that customers were fighting over $2 waffle makers – I’m sure Walmart wasn’t.  They know their customers and appealed to them with these “bargains.”

Black Friday Shopping Safety

 

If anyone would have been seriously hurt during these sales, Walmart – in my opinion – would have been liable.  In California, store owners are subject to a duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.

All business owners must use reasonable care to protect their customers from being injured by dangerous conditions.  Not only did Walmart not protect customers from a dangerous condition (as we saw with the Pepper Spray Incident at a Walmart in Los Angeles), it can be argued that Walmart created the dangerous condition.

It’s easy to blame the “crazy people” shopping for Walmart Black Friday bargains.  But when you look deeper, you realize that Walmart was also responsible.  Let’s just hope next year no one is trampled in the frenzy, and that guns do not replace pepper spray.

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Injury Attorney at Lewitt Hackman. 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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