A recent OSHA investigation determined a fall accident that left a worker paralyzed at a PA construction site in West Chester was caused by the lack of fall protection. The employer was a New Jersey based contractor which had been subcontracted to perform work in Pennsylvania. This is a fairly common practice. Companies in one state often get hired to perform work on other states.
How the Fall Accident Happened
In July of 2015, a 30 year old construction worker was returning to work after the July 4th holiday weekend. It was his first day at the West Chester construction site of future apartment and condominium buildings. He was going to install gutters on the apartment buildings.
The worker stood on a makeshift platform which was raised by a rough terrain forklift. The platform was raised to 3 stories high. The platform became unstable and toppled, causing the man to fall 40 feet to the ground. As a result, the worker suffered catastrophic injuries, including being paralyzed from the waist down.
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Cause of the Accident
OSHA’s investigation found that the worker’s fall accident was due to the lack of proper fall protection as required by OSHA regulations. The worker’s employer, a Bordentown, New Jersey subcontractor, routinely misused front end loaders, forklifts and other similar equipment to support scaffold platforms. In addition, the NJ company did not properly train its workers to recognize fall hazards and on the use of fall protection. The company has been cited for similar accidents in March and June of 2015. In fact, this accident was the second fall accident suffered by a worker at the company in 2015.
In addition, the general contractor of the West Chester construction site, a PA company in Media, was also cited for this incident. It was cited for 8 serious violations, including improper use of powered industrial trucks and failure to provide fall protection.
OSHA issued penalties for the NJ and PA companies: $72,880 for the worker’s employer and $24,500 for the general contractor.
Related: The Most Dangerous Work Hazard – Falls from Heights
Rights of NJ Injured Workers
Though the workers’ compensation law in New Jersey prohibits injured workers from suing their employers for on the job accidents and injuries, such as fall accidents, there are limited exceptions where workers can sue their employers.
In New Jersey, an injured worker may sue his employer if the employer commits an intentional act, which is an act the employer commits knowing that the consequences are substantially certain to result in harm to workers.
In this above case, it seems that there is an argument that the injured worker’s employer committed an intentional act. The NJ company was cited for similar fall accidents, and it routinely, improperly used equipment to raise platforms. It can certainly be argued that because of prior similar accidents, the employer knew that using a forklift to raise a platform is substantially certain to result in harm to workers.
Help After a NJ Work Fall Accident
If you or a loved one was injured in a work fall accident in NJ, it is best to consult an experienced work injury lawyer to ensure the success of the case. Our firm has recovered over $100 million for injured workers. Call to schedule a FREE consultation. Click To Call
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