Last month, a PA residential builder and remodeler, Custom Valley Builders LLC, was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Workers at a work site in Hegins, PA, were exposed to fall hazards while replacing the roof, siding and windows on a two-story residence. *Source: www.osha.gov
Related Construction Accident Case Results Obtained By Daniel J. O'Brien, Esq.
The builder was fined $33,200. The majority of the fine, $28,000, was for a willful violation where it was alleged the builder failed to provide fall protection for employees working on a roof 19-24 feet off the ground. A willful violation is one committed with intentional or voluntary disregard of the law’s requirements.
OSHA regulations require workers working from heights of 6 feet or more above a lower level to have fall protection. Section 1926.501(b)(1) of OSHA regulations provide:
"Unprotected sides and edges." Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
The remaining amount was for a serious violation involving a lack of guarding on a portable angle grinder and the lack of fall protection for workers working from an aerial lift. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard which the employer knew or should have known.
Fall protection is crucial for workers who are working at heights. Fall from heights is the leading cause of death for construction workers. If falls do not result in fatalities, workers often sustain serious orthopedic injuries, such as multiple broken bones throughout the body and/or serious brain injuries.
Workers who suffer serious orthopedic injuries often cannot return to work. A worker who falls from a roof 19 feet off the ground may break his leg in several places. He will need surgery and have hardware, such as plates and screws, placed inside his leg permanently. With hardware in his leg, the injured worker will probably never have the same mobility in his leg as before. For example, climbing ladders or bending his knees to get down to perform any work may be impossible.
Though he will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim for medical benefits and disability benefits, the amount of benefits he receives will not compensate the worker for his pain and suffering.
Though PA’s workers’ compensation law prohibits workers from suing their employer for negligence claims, workers may sue their employer if the employer committed an intentional wrongful act.
If an employer knowingly fails to provide fall protection as this recently cited builder is alleged to have done, it is certainly arguable that an employer/builder committed an intentional wrong.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured after a fall accident at a PA construction site, you may have a claim beyond workers’ compensation. Call Daniel J. O’Brien, an experienced work accident lawyer, to schedule a free consultation. Mr. O’Brien has helped many injured workers recover financial compensation after their work accidents. 877.944.8396