Articles Tagged with construction

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Huntsville Accident & Injury LawyersI’ve written more posts about the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) than I can count. Most of my OSHA-related articles discuss specific safety hazards or issues that impact my Alabama clients. In some articles, I discuss specific citations at Alabama businesses.

One of my primary complaints — OSHA is undermanned and underfunded. The Agency should protect working men and women. In theory, it does. In reality, it lacks the manpower to conduct needed inspections. Unsafe workplaces across the United States go without inspection until a deadly accident leaves families grieving the loss of a loved one. This lack of manpower and inspections are issues I’ve discussed many times. So, I’ll leave it for today.

Are OSHA inspections and violations public record? Someone recently asked our office this question. Yes, they are accessible. In many prior cases, I’ve obtained OSHA reports or data. Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, you can find detailed information about violations and other incidents. In prior cases, I’ve found key information from these FOIA requests. I’ve also obtained information from OSHA’s Birmingham area office. But, I’m not writing simply to list the steps in a FOIA request. Nor am I writing to list addresses that are available in a simple Google search. Instead, I want to talk about a couple serious ways OSHA can help your injury case. I also want to discuss a third way OSHA should impact safety through our work comp system. Unfortunately, it does not in Alabama.

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Personal Injury Lawyers HuntsvilleThe Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) recently released its Top 10 list of safety violations for 2021. This list includes the most-cited safety issues by OSHA. I always study the list and compare it to prior years.

What do you see when you look at the annual Top 10 safety violation list? If you read the annual list, you will quickly notice the same dangerous violations seem to make the list every year. Some of the safety issues might move up-or-down a couple places. But, the same problems exist every year. And, one violation seems to take the top spot almost every single year.

What is the top safety violation year-after-year? Fall protection! In fact, fall protection has ranked number one for the last 11 straight years. In recent years, I’ve represented numerous workers who suffered disabling personal injuries in worksite falls from heights. I’ve also represented families who lost a loved one in a worksite fall. All of these tragedies had one thing in common — Management could have prevented the serious accident with a few simple safety procedures.

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Construction Accidents & InjuriesLast month, OSHA proposed fines against a company for a deadly Huntsville-area trench collapse. What happened? The fatal accident occurred at a local construction site along Jeff Road. The worker entered a deep trench to work on some underground utility pipes. The trench then collapsed, suffocating the worker under thousands of pounds of soil.

After investigating this fatal construction accident, OSHA concluded the contractor failed to inspect its trenches and failed to use a proper shield system for preventing cave-ins. In issuing proposed penalties against the Huntsville contractor, OSHA’s area director said the following:

Trenching and excavation is among the most dangerous work in the construction industry. The failure to use required safety equipment and follow procedures in this case turned a preventable hazard into a fatal result. We hope other industry employers comply with the law and take appropriate actions to avoid similar tragedies.

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A few months ago, I wrote an article discussing Huntsville, infrastructure growth, and the need to focus on work crew safety. With a growing population, comes a need for greater infrastructure. That means more roads and better roads. You can read my prior road crew safety post here:

In past articles I’ve also discussed specific roads that need safety improvements. These include Highway 431 which has been included in listings of the most dangerous roads in the world. Yes, you heard that correctly. Highway 431 has been included in listings containing roads on the edges of cliffs! Why? This highway is especially dangerous because it passes through so many cities and towns with different traffic conditions. Think about all the cities and towns on Highway 431 as you leave Huntsville heading south. I frequently drive Highway 431 from my house in Huntsville to courtrooms in Guntersville, Gadsden and Anniston. It’s a dangerous highway simply because of the traffic it carries and the towns it serves.

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Huntsville Personal Injury AttorneysWhat Personal Injury Cases Are At Issue?

If you are hurt on the job in Alabama, you are likely entitled to work comp benefits. What if you were hurt because someone else was also negligent? You still have a work comp case. If the negligent person was a co-worker, that’s probably all you have. With a few limited exceptions for things like intentional conduct, your employer (and co-workers) are immune from claims outside workers compensation.

Sometimes, the negligent person is a third-party. That is, the negligent person did not work for your employer. If you are hurt due to the negligence of another person (outside your employer), you may also have a separate personal injury claim to recover your damages. In these cases, you likely have BOTH a work comp claim and a negligence claim against the third-party.

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Untitled-design-3-copy-2-1-300x300Huntsville Growth Means Lots Of Road Construction

Over the last decade, the Huntsville area has seen tremendous development. The surrounding area is rapidly growing. In downtown Huntsville, multiple hotels and offices are under construction. In the medical district, Huntsville Hospital and other medical offices continue expanding. Along Highway 72, you see stores and offices stretching from Huntsville to Athens. Throughout Madison, Limestone and Morgan Counties, new neighborhoods are under development. With new development, comes new road construction. And, authorities must maintain existing roads as well. If you live around Huntsville, it’s likely you regularly deal with road construction somewhere on your daily route!

Road Construction Workers Are At Risk For Serious Injury Or Death

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Blackwell Law Firm helps injured workers across Alabama.I read a disturbing article in the Insurance Journal last week. The title says it all:

$2B Orlando Highway Construction Project Halted After 5th Worker Death

Five separate workplace deaths on one project! One fatal work-related accident is INEXCUSABLE. Five? It’s hard to comprehend. How could one site be so deadly? How could the contractor allow this to happen? Worker deaths from safety issues are ALWAYS inexcusable.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Representing Injured Workers Across AlabamaProductivity versus safety. The two should work together. Yet, some companies value only immediate productivity. On many construction sites, immediate productivity trumps safety every single day. Who pays the price when safety is neglected? Workers and their families pay the ultimate price of serious injuries and deaths.

A survey of construction workers showed the majority believed safety took a back seat to immediate productivity. Yet, it should not. The majority of workers also believed their companies did the bare MINIMUM required amount for safety. That is, their companies met the minimum needed to avoid a citation but not the level needed to create a culture of safety. These working men and women understand first-hand the safety issues on construction sites.

Do some companies neglect real safety? Most serious injury and death cases I’ve investigated on construction sites happened because management failed to institute basic safety processes. This is why safety standards established by agencies like OSHA are so important. Without minimum standards, some companies would do nothing at all.

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Blackwell Law Firm - North Alabama AttorneysWorker safety is far too often a one-way street. Following a major injury or workplace death, families are left to pay the long-term price. On the other hand, the cost to companies is often small and short-term.

The latest Congressional proposal is a prime example of unfairness for workers. Our leaders are currently proposing massive spending for infrastructure. Who pays for the infrastructure improvements? We do. The money comes from taxes paid by workers. Don’t get me wrong — We need infrastructure improvements. I support improving our failing roadways and bridges. It takes both money and labor to accomplish that task. While using our tax money for the work, Congress also wants to use our labor with no regard for worker safety. How? Certain leaders in Congress are proposing to alter Federal law in an effort to provide greater protection for their construction industry friends. That’s wrong.

I’ve already seen the worst when it comes to safety on Federally-funded projects. I previously represented a steel worker who fell over 20 feet on a construction site at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. My client lived. But, the fall left him permanently disabled. After being hired in that case, we began a thorough investigation. What we found was beyond disturbing. We discovered a general contractor with no regard for site safety. We discovered a general contractor with no safety plan for the equipment or process at issue. Interestingly, the general contractor advertised its “safety awards” on its corporate website. These fake safety awards looked pretty on the internet – with pictures of nice trophies. Yet, at trial the contractor’s executive admitted its fake safety awards just considered the safety of site management (not the actual laborers). It was all a sham. We also learned that safety is really not a factor when hiring site contractors.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Alabama Personal Injury LawFall protection. A recent OSHA penalty following a fatal fall serves as a strong reminder of two things:

  • Falls from heights are a leading cause of workplace injuries and deaths.
  • Simple safety steps can prevent most serious falls.
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