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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

OSHA: Worker unhooked himself in Niskayuna construction fatality

When so many parties are involved, how can you assign liability?

Federal labor investigators have finally finished their investigation into the death of a construction worker who suffered fatal injuries when he fell 24 feet at the Iroquois Village Apartments development this past March.

After an intensive investigation, it was found that 37 year old Wilfredo Vazquez had unhooked himself from his safety lines to untangle his leg from a lifeline while doing some carpentry on a small ledge. Within seconds, Wifredo fell to the ground and later died from his injuries.

Details of the Investigation

In response to the accident, the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA), investigated three firms contracting on the Iroquois Village Project, including the general contractor, Ballston Mourningkill Associates, LLC; subcontractor Rankin Construction National Builders, LLC; and a Rankin subcontractor, Hernandez Framing Inc.

A single eye-witness confirmed that Wilfredo had unhooked the lanyard from the D-ring on his harness. OSHA determined this to be the primary cause of the fall, however, its’ investigation revealed serious deficiencies on the part of Hernandez Framing, which was hit with almost $30,000 in fines. Hernandez Framing violations include:

  • Improper securing of employee lifelines
  • Failing to provide steps or a ladder where there exists a break in elevation of over 19 inches
  • Failure to provide fall protection training to employees
  • Failure to ensure a competent party was onsite to inspect the jobsite and work
  • Failure to evaluate fall protection training provided by previous employers
  • Failure to have a general accident prevention program

Rankin Construction was cited with failing to include in their fall protection plan a list of individuals authorized to be on the construction site.

Assigning Liability in Construction Accidents

As is evident in the Iroquois Village events, construction projects involve multiple parties that may share liability for accidents that happen on the construction site. For the injured workers or families of workers killed in construction accidents, figuring out who is responsible can be a nightmare.

Potential parties to a construction accident case can be extensive, involving:

  • Landowners
  • Design Professionals
  • Engineers
  • Prime and Subcontractors
  • Construction managers
  • Equipment and materials suppliers

Determining who is responsible for an accident requires an assessment of who had the most control over the site where work was being done, what their legal duties were and the responsibilities assigned to each party.  In many cases, multiple parties are determined to be liable.

Injured in a Construction Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, you deserve to get the best recovery available to you.  Dallas workplace injury attorney Michael Sawicki has represented numerous families of workers injured in construction accidents and has a deep understanding of the liabilities of the parties involved. You do not have to go through this alone. Call Sawicki Law today at 888.468.8844.

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