Today’s blog post was shared by the U.S. Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov
This is quite the article that looks at the journey of keeping one Florida construction company accountable for workers’ safety. The original incident sadly resulted in one worker’s death and 20 workers’ injuries. The company, Southern Pan, when faced with a $125,000 fine, went through the appeals process to try to avoid paying the full fine. The company’s lawyers were successful, so the Labor Department’s lawyers appealed, and after eight years of the process, this happened: “… an administrative law judge affirmed OSHA’s citations and ordered the company to pay the full penalty of $125,000.”
Although this situation happened in Florida, deaths because construction businesses took shortcuts in safety are all too common. Here’s a link to a blog post from 2015 that was a follow up to an OSHA investigation in Nebraska where one worker died and another was seriously injured when their employer didn’t provide any fall protection and the workers fell 16 feet off a roof.
“According to OSHA rules, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace.”
This thought was highlighted in a previous blog post from a guest author Catherine Stanton, who works at a New York City law firm. In her blog post, she wrote about the need for safety enforcement in construction and other industries.
As I wrote in a recent blog post, violating safety codes are unlawful acts.
“As a representative of injured workers, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of work injuries or deaths caused by gross disregard of safety codes and regulations by employers.”
If a business follows OSHA regulations – many of these construction deaths, whether in trenches, as a result of falls, or when a company completely disregards the safety of its workers like in Florida – should be preventable.
It would take a much longer discussion to debate how to make these businesses understand even part of the loss that the loved ones of the workers who died feel, and you can read a few thoughts on this topic at this recent blog post. Because everyone should be able to return home to their loved ones after an honest day’s work.
In the construction industry, precision matters – corners need to be square, lines have to be level and plans must be followed. Following the rules keeps buildings and people safe. But when construction companies cut corners, workers often pay the price.
That is exactly what happened in Jacksonville, Florida, in December 2007. A construction company called Southern Pan thought eliminating basic safety procedures would save time and money. The result? A six-story parking garage came crashing down, killing one worker and injuring 20 others. The worker who was killed, Willie Edwards, was only there that day because he decided to pick up an extra shift to buy Christmas presents for his children.
This horrific tragedy could have been easily avoided.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces construction standards designed to keep workers safe from building collapses like this. To keep a building from collapsing during construction, a process called “shoring” is used, which involves wood or steel beams to help support the weight of concrete and other construction loads.
In violation of OSHA’s construction standards, Southern Pan chose to remove most of the shores from the first two floors of the parking garage, ignoring blueprints that required all shoring to remain from top to bottom until the building was completed. The company then knowingly permitted workers, including Edwards, to work in the…[Click here to see the rest of this post]