The construction industry continues to have more work-related accidents and injuries than other professions. Some of the most common types of construction injuries include: falls, injuries sustained as a result of being caught in machinery or crushed by falling buildings or equipment, and muscle injuries from exertion and repetitive motions.
On July 28, a 34-year old man was tragically killed by the collapse of a metal building frame he was working beneath. Another worker at the construction site was also injured in the collapse. The other worker sustained non-life threatening injuries, was treated and later released from a local hospital.
The men worked for a steel erecting subcontractor hired by a contractor from Austin, Texas. The building under construction is a new manufacturing plant for Thermon Manufacturing, which specializes in the field of heat tracing technology for the energy industry.
OSHA Investigation and Responsibility
The Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA) has started an investigation into the cause of the collapse of the metal building frame. OSHA has not yet released preliminary results of the investigation as to why the metal building frame collapsed. OSHA investigations generally take several months to complete.
Once OSHA determines the cause of the collapse, the subcontractor or contractor may be found partially at fault for negligence. Both could then face personal injury lawsuits from the estate of the worker who was killed.
The injured worker may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, but would not be able to sue his employer for negligence. The injured worker could still have a personal injury claim against a responsible third-party, such as the general contractor. If a third-party’s negligence or unsafe work environment put the employee at risk, the injured worker or his or her family members may be entitled to damages for those injuries.
If there is a responsible third-party, the deceased worker’s family may have a claim for wrongful death to recover compensation for their loss. Additionally, depending on the circumstances surrounding the death of the employee, the decedent’s estate may have a claim if the worker experienced conscious pain and suffering prior to his death. If there is no other responsible third-party, then the deceased’s family would have to prove gross negligence against his employer to recover and then that would be limited by statutory caps.