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According to the United States Department of Labor, “every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families and damage our economy.”
The leading cause of death and injury on construction sites are falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object and getting caught in/between objects. There is no doubt that working on a construction site is inherently dangerous, but it becomes inexcusable when an accident occurs due to a dangerous condition that was known and/or preventable.
Construction Accident Law centers around personal injury and wrongful death claims that have resulted from construction accidents as well as safety regulations, laws, and standards that govern the construction industry at the federal and state levels.
In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted, which requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. Nevertheless, each year millions of workers are injured. In the last year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s ten most frequent violations were as follows:
- Scaffolding general requirements;
- Fall protections;
- Hazard communication standards;
- Respiratory protections;
- Control of hazardous energies;
- Electrical wirings;
- Powered industrial trucks;
- Ladder safeties;
- Electrical system designs; and
- Machine/machine guarding safeties.
In addition to damages that may be awarded for construction accident injuries, an employer or workplace may also be penalized by federal and state governments for violations of OSHA. Though laws vary from state to state, the federal government has established certain penalties for the various categories of violations.
De Minimis Violations
Minor violations may be assessed without monetary penalty if OSHA finds the violation does not pose an actual risk to employees. For example, someone working on a roof that does not set up a warning line at least 15 feet from the roof edge is not technically compliant, but does not pose a risk to the employee. This type of violation may be discussed between a compliance officer and the violating company without issuing a citation.
Violations that do not pose an immediate physical threat may be assessed a variable fine per occurrence. If an employer has violated some regulation such as recordkeeping requirements, they could be issued an: Other-than-Serious violation, which can vary greatly in amount. OSHA has discretion in setting a fine in such scenarios.
OSHA may impose fines up to $12,500 per violations that present a significant chance of injury or death. Companies that fail to sufficiently protect their employees or should have recognized a hazard, but did not merit such a classification. The fine may be adjusted for factors such as company size.
When a company intentionally violates OSHA regulations and willingly or knowingly put employees in harm’s way, this classification is applied. In the event a fatality occurs such an act rises to the level of criminality. Willful violations can cost up to $125,000 per violation for nonfatal incidents and more in cases involving fatalities. Fatal violations merit a minimum $250,000 fine for an individual or $500,000 for a corporation as well as up to 6 months of incarceration. Those figures double for a second conviction.
Any company that received a citation within the last 3 years and incurs a subsequent violation may be assessed a fine of up to $125,000. It does not matter if the violation occurs in a different location or even a different state – the repeat penalties will apply.
Failure to Abate
Any OSHA violation not abated by the mandated date can accrue additional fines for each day the company does not comply. Penalties of $7,000 per day can apply for failure to comply or lessen the violating factor in a timely manner.
Determining who is truly responsible for a construction accident can be complex. An experienced San Diego attorney with knowledge of federal and state regulations governing construction sites is imperative when developing theories against all the third parties who may be responsible for a construction site accident. The result of a single negligent act can be catastrophic in the construction environment. Whether you are a construction worker injured due to unsafe working conditions or a person suffering a construction injury by simply passing by, you have the right to take legal action.
For a free and confidential consultation with an experienced San Diego construction injury attorney, please call us directly at (866) 338-7079, or click here to submit your inquiry online.