Construction Accidents in Florida
The construction industry plays a vital role in our society. Workers build homes, office buildings, bridges, and communication towers. Without their hard work, we would lack the infrastructure needed to sustain our economy. Between July and December 2014, the Florida construction sector had over 400,000 jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sadly, accidents occur far too often in the construction industry. A 2013 U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics report studying fatal work injuries in Florida for 2012 disclosed that the construction industry had the largest number of fatalities in the state with 55, up from 41 in the previous year.
Workplace injuries are diverse and occur for a number of reasons, including negligence from another worker, falling from scaffolding, defective equipment, collapsing infrastructure, explosions, exposure to toxic substances, and crane accidents. Injuries include concussions, burns, lacerations, sprains, and repetitive-motion injury. Falls are the leading cause of construction worker deaths in Florida – totaling one-third of on-the-job deaths in the industry, as reported by the Florida Department of Health. In addition to employees being injured, passers-by may also be injured from equipment left on the ground, or if materials fall from the roof or are knocked out of a window.
In most cases, if an employer has workers’ compensation insurance, they are shielded from personal injury lawsuit liability. A worker needs to only prove that an injury occurred in order to pursue workers’ compensation. Additionally, construction site owners, general contractors, sub-contractors, manufacturers, and architects may be held liable to an injured person as third parties.
Employers have the responsibility to maintain a safe work environment. Workers or their representatives may ask OSHA to inspect their workplace to analyze any serious hazards and to see if their employer is following OSHA standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also provides workers in Florida the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses. If an employer discriminates or retaliates against an employee for reporting an injury or illness, a retaliation complaint may be filed with OSHA.
Construction Injury News
A July 2014 death of a worker, Joseph Miller, who was crushed in the materials elevator during construction of a Florida State University dorm, prompted OSHA to issue citations to four Tallahassee-based construction companies totaling nearly $150,000. General contractor Culpepper Construction Co. and Miller’s Plumbing were issued citations for willful safety violations. Benchmark Erectors and Fleck Exterior were issued citations for exposing employees to the same hazard. Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director from Jacksonville stated “Culpepper and Miller’s management acknowledged workers were exposed to a serious safety hazard, but failed to ensure all four sides adjacent to the material hoist structure were protected adequately.”
Miller’s parents gave notice of their intent to file a $15 million wrongful death suit against Florida State University for their son’s death. Sid Matthew, the Miller family attorney, stated that the university had a duty to maintain a construction site in a reasonably safe manner.
A tragedy such as this is a consequence of cutting corners and a lack of safety protocols — both of which are preventable. If you have experienced serious injuries at a worksite, contact a Fort Lauderdale construction accident lawyer at Boone & Davis today to evaluate your case and offer guidance on recovering compensation.