Realities of Hazardous Construction Site Working EnvironmentsJune 7, 2018
We all make mistakes – we’re human. From falling down the first time we try to walk, to banging up our first car, accidents are a part of our lives from the very beginning. They take place not only in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. Luckily, most accidents are easily remedied. However, certain industries tend to be more inherently dangerous and prone to serious accidents than others.
Risk and Safety Measures in the Construction Industry
People who work in the construction business understand the serious consequences that can occur from a single error in judgment. As with the recent pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University, deaths and injuries are now a genuine reality for those in the business of construction. Common accidents include demolition accidents, trench collapses, cave in accidents, falling objects, and crane accidents. Projects that are handled with safety and care are often more profitable than those that are not, due to lack of delay and potential jobsite injury claims. However, several recent news stories demonstrate cases of unsafe environments in which a company has been found not only to be liable, but criminally liable. That’s why safety measures and regulation are put into place to protect workers in their industry.
OSHA and the Enforcement of Regulations
Along with federal, state, and local laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing those regulations that uphold a minimum standard for employee protection. A willful violation of these regulations is not without its own consequences. If a company has willfully violated a regulation that has been enforced by OSHA, (either through intentional disregard of or indifference) and the death of an employee subsequently results, the death can be considered a misdemeanor under federal law, resulting in a maximum of six months in prison and a fine of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a business entity. Each accident is judged on a case by case basis.
The Responsibility of an Industry
Companies that operate construction sites need to be aware of workplace safety and regulations, and must ensure compliance of these procedures. The construction company should also involve its employees in identifying any unsafe or hazardous work environments and must ensure no retaliatory measures are taken against the employee for making a report in good faith. To help with this, a company should have a well-publicized system for reporting unsafe conditions, reviewing, and remedying them. If a company fails to establish or enforce safety policies, this can be taken into account when viewing whether the OSHA violation was willful.