Numerous people across the state will visit the emergency room annually for help due to slip-and-fall accidents. Some injuries will not be serious and after some quick treatment they’ll be on their way will not result in a hospital stay. However, other injuries can be severe such as fractures, breaks or even a fatality. Hundreds of slip-and-fall accidents can take a financial toll on the victim and his or her family. The most common reasons for this accident are the condition of surfaces and the lack of job training at the businesses.
Slip-and-fall accidents happen when the walking surfaces are left in an unsafe condition, like with water or other liquids. This is because of failure to maintain the surface, like removing the hazard timely. The surface can also be unsafe due to the weather, such as tracked-in snow. Even an attempt to do the right thing, like keep floors clean, can result in an accident. When signs are not posted to notify guests that the floor is slippery a dangerous accident can occur.
A walking surface that is not level is also cause for concern. Carpeting that is fraying or cracks and potholes can cause a slip-and-fall accident. The law mandates that property owners keep their land safe for guests who are invited onto the property. This means clearing any potential dangers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that less than 10% of construction laborers will be the victim of an injury on site annually. Yet, there were nearly 900 deaths annually at construction sites across the country.
Construction site injuries and accidents often occur because those in charge try to cut corners to be more profitable. Instead of complying with government standards and regulation, they opt for faster cheaper work. This results in unsafe working conditions, workers who are not trained fully, lack of safety inspections, negligent workers, or defective equipment use.
In the early morning, dawn hours, of April 14th, a couple of Boston Police patrol cars were in a collision. All three of the officers in the vehicles were injured requiring transport to hospital. The accident occurred near Washington Street and Downtown Crossing, according to the Boston Police Department reports.
The patrol cars were traveling in different directions, responding to different assignments. The fourth occupant in one patrol unit was a detainee.
On April 12, 2018 a Massachusetts jury returned a verdict in favor of Brian Goodrich in the amount of $8.25 million. The award comes after years of litigation beginning in 2013 when Mr. Goodrich’s head was nearly crushed because the jack holding up a piece of equipment failed. He suffered horrendous injuries which included facial disfigurement, blindness and loss of cognitive function.
The jury found, after hearing 11 days of testimony, that the company which designed the equipment was a majority at fault. Mr. Goodrich was changing the oil on the equipment meant to melt asphalt and fill cracks in the road. Although Mr. Goodrich acknowledged not using the safety pin with the jack which held the machine up, the company failed to include safety warnings and failed to manufacture the machine appropriately knowing such accidents were possible.
Earlier this afternoon, as two flatbed truck workers were loading a Honda Accord onto the tow truck, the truck began to roll and ran over one of the workers. He was taken away in an ambulance. The Pipo’s Towing truck ended up descending approximately 250 feet down hill. This occurred on Haviland Street in Worcester at around 1:30 p.m. There were several witnesses to the incident including the three women getting the Honda Accord towed.
The other Pipo’s Towing worker was also injured when, after attempting to jump into the tow truck to stop it from continuing to roll down hill further, he fell out of the truck onto the pavement. There were no further injuries when the truck came to rest against a tree that stopped it. The accident investigation team of the Worcester Police are investigating mechanical failure as a possible cause, among other factors.
Our personal injury attorneys in Massachusetts know independent contractors who are injured on the job are typically not covered by workers’ compensation insurance and may be required to file a civil lawsuit.
Jentz v. Conagra Foods, Inc., a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, involved a grain bin that exploded in 2010, injuring three workers. The jury, after trial that lasted more than two weeks, awarded plaintiffs $180 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The defendant who owned the grain bin argued that liability should rest with a company hired to fix problems with the bin before the explosion occurred.
The appellate court noted that explosions are a constant danger in grain storage bins. Grain bins produce combustible dust and carbon monoxide that can explosively oxidize to carbon dioxide when a heat source is introduced. Decaying grain can give off enough heat to start the explosive reaction.
Prior to the explosion, company employees noticed a burning smell coming from a bin containing wheat pellets. The company hired defendant, who specialized in fixing “hot bins” at grain storage facilities. The work did not begin immediately because the grain bin owner was trying to get the company to work at a lower rate and started contacting competitors.
The job of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to protect workers from dangers or hazards in the workplace. OSHA establishes many different guidelines, rules and requirements for employers in order to ensure that workers are as protected as possible. Unfortunately, OSHA cannot protect workers against nature. As such, winter creates many workplace hazards for workers’ across a variety of industries.
Our Boston injury attorneys want to ensure that workers’ and employers are aware of the areas where there is added risk in the wintertime. This is especially important for those who work on construction sites. The vast majority of construction, whether for public projects, roads and streets, residential buildings or commercial buildings, tends to take place outdoors. This means that construction workers’ may be impacted more than most by cold weather and winter snow, sleet or ice.
Winter Dangers That Affect Construction Workers
OSHA has outlined a number of potential winter risks faced by workers. While driving a vehicle is one of the key dangers on OSHA’s list, there are also some other potential workplace dangers that OSHA has identified that are likely to hit construction workers’ hard. For example, some of the potential risks that arise for construction workers in winter include:
- Driving accidents on dangerous or slippery roads. These accidents could happen when you are driving a construction vehicle, which could pose an especially great risk due to the size and weight of many of the machines used for construction
- Exhaustion from strenuous activity such as shoveling snow. You may need to clear a jobsite before you begin construction work, forcing you to pick up a snow shovel. Overexertion from using a snow shovel could put you in danger of a heart attack, muscle strain or other injuries.
- Back injuries or heart attacks as a result of snow removal efforts.
- Electrocution as a result of power lines that have fallen. Since a great deal of construction work takes place along streets or in well-populated commercial areas, there may be a high concentration of power lines on construction sites that could fall on or near workers.
- Roof collapses due to the weight of snow. Since construction sites may be unfinished buildings or older buildings with roofs that aren’t up to code, this is a very real concern for Boston construction workers during winter.
- Hypothermia and frostbite. Both of these problems can occur as a result of exposure to extreme cold for too long. Unfortunately, construction workers may be performing a great deal of their work outdoors or in unheated structures that haven’t yet been completed and that provide little protection from cold temperatures. Construction workers, therefore, can suffer from either hypothermia or frostbite as a result of being on cold construction sites.
These are just a few of the many potential winter hazards that construction workers face on the job. If an employee does suffer an injury from these or other winter workplace hazards, the employee may qualify for a workers’ compensation claim or may be able to identify a responsible defendant to sue for the injuries sustained.
In early December, Boston.com wrote of a deadly tunnel collapse outside Tokyo. The collapse resulted in nine deaths and led to calls to spend more money on the aging infrastructure in Japan.
While this accident was a world away, it is a clear and tragic illustration of the devastating consequences of the failure to maintain bridges, tunnels, buildings and other essential infrastructure of cities and towns. Unfortunately, in America, our infrastructure is aging too and our Boston injury attorneys are concerned that individuals could be in danger if a collapse occurs. Construction workers are needed to do repairs on failing infrastructure and aging buildings, but could also be at risk when working on failing structures.
Construction Site Risks
With more bridges, tunnels, roads and buildings in need of repair as America ages, more construction work will become necessary in the coming years. Unfortunately, working with aging buildings and structures comes at great risk for construction workers. Those in the construction industry may be asked to tackle tough jobs at dilapidated structures and could be at risk of:
- Crushing injuries due to falling bridges, ceilings, tunnels and other structures.
- Fall injuries, including falls to a lower level if aging floors in buildings cave in.
- Scaffolding injuries when performing work on bridges or on tall buildings and skyscrapers throughout the United States
- Gas explosions due to aging pipelines. According to Pipeline Safety Awareness, pipelines stretch across 2.6 million miles in the United States and more than 50 percent of the pipelines were constructed during the 1950s and the 1960s. Construction workers can be injured both when called upon to repair aging pipelines and when performing other construction work on the aging infrastructure that disturbs a gas or other pipeline.
Of course, injuries can happen on any construction site. However, the potential risks to construction workers are exacerbated when construction workers are doing work on old and failing infrastructure. The added danger comes not just from the fact that the buildings or structures might collapse or fall, but also from the fact that work done in the past (such as electrical work) may have been done to different safety codes and standards than those used today.
Staying Safe on Construction Sites
Those performing work on repairing the aging infrastructure in the United States need to be aware of the added risks of working on old structures, old buildings, old bridges and old tunnels. Employers need to account for any and all potential risks to their employees and those actually performing the work need to be on the lookout for dangerous situations that could put them at risk.
In most cases, if a construction accident occurs, the employer will be held responsible and the worker will be compensated through a workers’ compensation claim. For some construction injuries, however, a third party is responsible (such as a project manager) and the construction worker will be able to file a personal injury cause of action to recover more compensation than could be obtained in a workers’ compensation claim.
According to Richard A. Davie, CEO and Secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), officials recently broke ground on the Anderson Memorial Bridge to help to make the necessary improvements connecting Cambridge and Boston via the Charles River.
The restoration project on the bridge is costing the city nearly $20 million and it is being funded through the Patrick-Murray Administration’s Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP). The bridge helps to get North Harvard Street across the Charles River. The project will be done in 4 phases and is expected to be done by the fall of 2014. Until then, drivers and water travelers are urged to be cautious in these areas. Construction work brings about an increase in the risks for accidents in Boston.
“The rehabilitation of this important bridge reflects our Administration’s commitment to investing in infrastructure improvements in cities and towns across the Commonwealth,” Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray said.
Our Boston personal injury lawyers understand that the bridge is nearly 450 feet in length and is a three-span structure, meaning there’s a lot of work to be done. While construction teams are working on the bridge, they will always keep two arches open so that water travelers can continue their travels down the Charles River. Land travelers don’t have to worry either. They’ll be able to get by too, but only with one lane open in each direction. Traffic will be directed through barrels and striping so you’ve got to be careful! Risks of boat, car, bicycle and pedestrians accidents are significantly increased in construction areas. If you can, you’re urged to avoid this area altogether. If you have to use the bridge, make sure that you do so carefully and be sure to allow yourself plenty of time for traffic and congestion.
According to transportation officials, this bridge and the reconstruction is benefiting everyone. Not only will it last for decades, but it will also provide better and safer accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists. Frank DePaola with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) says that these kinds of improvements will help to make sure that everyone has an easier and safer way to get around.
There is nearly $500 million in ABP funds to help to improve seven of the bridges that make their way across the Charles River. The Anderson Memorial Bridge serves as the third bridge to get a makeover. The Craigie Drawbridge and the Craigie Dam Bridge have already gotten their turn.
The Anderson Memorial Bridge was built back in 1951 and was named after the builder’s father.
Drivers are asked to be cautions when driving through construction areas. Be on the lookout for other vehicles and for roadside workers. Accidents are likely when travelers are not paying attention. Keep it slow and keep your full attention on your surroundings.