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“Accidents will happen”? Not necessarily

The old saying, “Accidents will happen,” is dangerous and represents a kind of fatalism that is at odds with the best efforts to promote job safety. A better saying would be, “Accidents don’t have to happen.” Our experience is that when accidents do happen, there is often a cause.

Failing to hire certified workers

One example of this occurred last year in New York. According to reports, a worker was killed on the job when a wall panel fell four floors and crushed him. The 3,100-pound panel was fastened to the floor, but another panel suspended by a crane struck it.

The worker was directing the hoisting operation when the panel fell, but an inspection revealed that he was not certified to perform the work. The inspection also resulted in a citation for failure to have safety measures in place.

The Department of Buildings issued several violations to the construction superintendent and general contractor for the site, one of which was a fine for failing to ensure workers performing a hoisting operation had the proper certification. Had they complied with that requirement, the accident may never have occurred, and the worker may never have been killed.

Non-compliance can be a sign of a bigger problem

When those in charge of a construction project fail to hire trained workers and supervise them, there could be a reason to suspect other violations are posing a threat to other workers.

In the case of the fatal accident, the inspection uncovered other violations, including:

  • Improper storage of hazardous materials
  • Missing guardrails
  • Failure to notify the department of an accident
  • Missing paperwork and certificates of occupancy

These violations on their own may or may not threaten the safety of others. However, they do suggest that contractors or superintendents are not operating a safe job site.

Construction sites are dangerous enough without the hazards of failed regulatory compliance. If you or someone you love has been injured on a construction site, consider speaking with a qualified construction injury attorney.

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