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Welcome to Texas Work Injury Law Blog

This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for work injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by work injuries.

Posts Tagged ‘Construction’

Workers in Austin, Texas, Learn They are Among 200 Potentially Exposed to Asbestos

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Asbestos fibers (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The NBC affiliate in Austin, Texas, KXAN, conducted an extensive investigation into asbestos exposures. They have released a report alleging that up to 200 people have been exposed to asbestos during demolition activity in city buildings. In a specific incident, more than a dozen employees at a water utilities building were exposed to asbestos during a job in which they pulled down a ceiling and removed furniture. There had been a request for approval of the job, but the work commenced weeks early and without a response. Several of the employees at the site were not provided with proper protective equipment. Understandably, many of them are now in fear regarding their health, having been told that they may have been exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos is a name for six naturally occurring minerals that offer tremendous benefits in the production of numerous commercial products, including building materials. Before it was fully recognized that asbestos is deadly, it was widely used in buildings and in many products across the U.S. Asbestos minerals are fibrous. When handled, the fine asbestos fibers can break apart, become airborne, and enter the lungs. Asbestos causes a number of deadly diseases, including cancer. No level of asbestos exposure is safe.

When old buildings that contain asbestos are going to be torn down, special procedures need to be taken, first to determine whether materials containing asbestos will be disturbed during the project. If there is a possibility of exposure, precautions must be taken to protect workers and anyone else who may be in the area when asbestos is disturbed. Only licensed individuals are allowed to disturb asbestos, and the environment must be contained.

All workers have a right to be protected against workplace injuries and life-threatening disease. Mishandling of asbestos comes with serious penalties, including jail time.

–Guest Contributor


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Texas Construction Worker Fatalities plus Safety Tips

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Construction worker in San Francisco.

Construction worker in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among the 50 states, Texas leads in construction work zone fatalities. Between 2003 and 2015, there were 1,324 fatalities in construction work zones, which comes to approximately 102 per year. Texas averaged 13 work zone fatalities each year. Throughout the U.S., new materials and methods are being tested and utilized, to try to reduce the risk of roadway work zone injuries. Among the solutions are steel barricades and “smart safety vests” that can detect when an object is approaching a worker too quickly and alert the worker. It has been discovered that offsite prefabrication of structural components used on overpasses helps to keep workers safer and reduces the impact on traffic.

The leading cause of construction worker fatalities is falls, slips, and trips. The next most dangerous are transportation incidents, contact with equipment or objects, and exposure to harmful environments or substances.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the “Fatal Four,” which have been the top causes of worker deaths on construction sites. Through OSHA, they are identified as falls, electrocution, struck-by-object, and caught-in/caught-between accidents. The following are construction safety tips for avoiding a deadly workplace accident:

  • When using power tools, wear a face shield, glasses, or goggles. In addition, check to be sure protective guards are in place and in good condition.
  • Never position yourself underneath a suspended load. Make sure heavy machine operators see you. When heavy equipment and vehicles are in use, stay clear.
  • Wear a hard hat at all times when on a construction site, and avoid being in areas where work is being performed above you.
  • Use screen, debris nets, and toeboards to secure materials and tools.
  • Always focus on what you are doing but also be watchful for people carrying objects that block their view.
  • Be familiar with the equipment you use, so that you know where wrap, crush, pinch, pull-in, and sheer points are located.
  • Before doing equipment inspections or repairs, chock the wheels on equipment that could move and shut the equipment down.
  • Don’t wear jewelry at work. Wear close-fitting clothing and keep long hair in a bun, to prevent getting caught in moving machinery.

–Guest Contributor


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A Construction Contractor in Southeast Austin is Crushed by a Concrete Slab

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

On the morning of Wednesday, August 9, 2017, in Southeast Austin, a construction worker was crushed when a concrete slab fell on him. Emergency crews went to the scene. Firefighters used drills, sledgehammers, and other tools to try to free the man from underneath the 30,000- to 40,000-pound concrete slab. They finally reached the worker, but he was already deceased and was pronounced dead at 10:01 am.

According to Division Chief Palmer Buck of the Austin Fire Department, the preformed concrete panel was going to be used for a parking garage that was being built. It wasn’t known at the time the fatal workplace accident occurred how the worker became trapped underneath the concrete slab.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an investigation, as it does anytime there is an on-the-job fatality. Conclusions and news of any proposed penalties for alleged safety violations are usually published several months after an OSHA inspection.

According to OSHA statistics, every year, more than 4,500 workers die in the workplace.  The following are a few of many details from the 2015 OSHA report on fatal occupational injuries by industry, event, or exposure:

  • The total number of workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2015 was 4,836.
  • The total number of fatalities in the construction industry was 937.
  • In the construction of buildings, 175 workers died.
  • Total number of roofing contractors that died was 87.
  • A total of 167 building equipment contractors suffered fatal on-the-job injuries.
  • In the manufacturing industry, 353 workers died.
  • In the utilities industry, 221 people were fatally injured.

Employers have a duty to keep workers safe on the job. OSHA provides detailed safety guidelines on countless workplace activities. Construction is one of the most hazardous industries to work in.

–Guest Contributor


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A Construction Worker is Killed in an Incident Near Georgetown, Texas

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Jose de Jesus Diaz-Venezuela, age 38, died in a tragic construction accident near Georgetown, Texas, on Saturday evening, September 2, 2017. Diaz-Venezuela was installing gas lines when he was struck by a grader being driven by another worker. The grader is heavy equipment used to flatten surfaces. The grader struck Diaz-Venezuela and caused bleeding around his head, but it didn’t run over him. According to Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody, he was probably crouching down when he was struck. Immediately following the accident, Diaz-Venezuela was conscious. An ambulance was called and an EMS crew arrived, but he died at the scene at about 5:19 p.m.

The gas lines were being installed by a pipeline construction firm based out of Giddings, Texas. The senior safety coordinator at the company announced that the investigation was in its preliminary stages, appropriate authorities had been notified, and they will fully cooperate with the investigation.

As with all fatal workplace accidents, an investigation will be done by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency will try to determine whether negligence in the area of construction safety was a factor in the workplace fatality.

The construction site where the accident occurred is located approximately a mile off of West Texas 29, not far from DB Wood Road.

Chody said in an interview about the deadly incident that something obviously didn’t go right, but it is believed by sheriff’s deputies to be an accident.

Workers are entitled to work in a safe environment, and employers have a duty to provide them.

–Guest Contributor


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After 2 Workers Die, Company is Fined $1,475,813 and a Man is Charged with Manslaughter – Part 2

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed penalties of almost $1.5 million against Atlantic Drain Service Company, Inc., in Boston, MA, following an inspection instigated by two workplace fatalities. In addition, the owner faces two manslaughter charges as well as other criminal charges in connection with the workers’ deaths and safety issues on the job.

The following are more details about specific citations against Atlantic Drain for safety violations that were allegedly committed:

The employer allegedly failed to initiate and maintain safety programs that provide for regular and frequent inspections by a competent person of the workplace site, materials, and equipment. Workers are exposed to flying debris generated from pneumatic and power tools and to struck-by hazards from vehicular traffic, where a competent person does not sufficiently inspect the worksite before or at any time during the course of work. Specifically, on or about October 17, 2016, to October 21, 2016, employees who were working in and around an unprotected trench were allegedly not protected from dangers associated with lack of proper personal protective equipment, unguarded power tools, and roadway traffic at the jobsite on Dartmouth Street in Boston. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $12,675.

Employees were allegedly not wearing face and eye protection when exposed to possible face and eye injuries from flying debris while working with hand-held portable electric angle grinders, pneumatic tools, and other power tools. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious violation is: $12,675.

See Part 1 and this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor


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After 2 Workers Die, Company is Fined Almost $1.5 million and a Businessman is Charged with Manslaughter

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

53°04′37.27″N 8°48′52.18″E / ...

53°04′37.27″N 8°48′52.18″E / °S °W / ; latd>90 (dms format) in latd latm lats longm longs thumb|The Zigzag trench around Bremen city Bremen City in Germany like many others is surrounded by a water trench. This trench is almost the same is size as the same original hundreds of years a go. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) visits the sites of fatal workplace accidents and issues citations and proposed penalties. Rarely do the penalties add up to a million dollars or more. In regard to the death of two workers who were killed in a trench collapse in Boston, Massachusetts, however, the safety fines add up to almost $1.5 million. In addition, the owner faces two manslaughter charges as well as other criminal charges, in connection with the workers’ deaths and safety issues on the job.

On October 21, 2016, 47-year-old Robert Higgins and 53-year-old Kelvin Mattocks were working in a 12-foot-deep trench. They were installing new service to a house that was being remodeled. The trench flooded within seconds after the supply line to an unsupported fire hydrant broke. Mattocks and Higgins were first exposed to the flood and then the collapse of the trench.

The man who was overseeing the work on that tragic day is the one who has been charged with manslaughter.

The New England regional administrator for OSHA, Galen Blanton, said the employer in this case had previously been cited for the same hazardous conditions that existed when the men were killed. Blanton said the employer was aware that safeguards were necessary to protect workers, but the responsibility was blatantly ignored.

The trench in which the workers died was supposed to be supported by sloped walls, shoring, or a trench box. Allegedly, none of the safety steps were taken; and there are now 40 pages of OSHA citations detailing the many alleged safety violations that were found.

Learn more about the citations in this case, all of which employers in Texas are responsible to become familiar with, in order to prevent similar hazardous situations.

–Guest Contributor


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Dallas Lawyer – The Need for Workplace Fall Protection is Enunciated by a Recent Construction Fatality

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

A window washer on one of skyscrapers in Shanghai

A window washer on one of skyscrapers in Shanghai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One construction worker died and another was critically injured in San Antonio, Texas, in December 2016 after a horrific fall that was entirely preventable. According to the San Antonio Fire Department, the men were about 75 feet above the ground in a bucket on a forklift when the bucket tipped over and the men fell out. Specific guidelines for workplace safety and fall prevention are provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When a situation such as this tragic workplace fatality occurs, OSHA investigators visit the employer and impose penalties for all alleged safety violations. The penalties have recently been raised for the first time in 25 years.

Ideally, employers recognize the value and importance of protecting workers from hazardous situations and diligently adhere to safety regulations. Tragically, far too many employers neglect the basic duty to provide safe workplace environments. Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, but it’s not because employers aren’t equipped with information on how to keep employers safe in a variety of situations.

Fall safety can often be achieved through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems. These are referred to by OSHA as conventional fall protection methods. Employers are encouraged to take actions to prevent falls of any kind, such as installing guardrails that will prevent employees from accidentally falling over a building’s edge.

A fall restraint system is one which does not allow a fall of any distance. This protection system is comprised of a body harness or body belt, an anchorage, connectors, and additional necessary equipment, such as a lifeline and lanyard. This is another of the options that can protect a worker from a dangerous fall.

Workers should know that they have a right to work in conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm or death. The best way to establish a safe and healthful work environment, according to OSHA, is with a comprehensive illness and injury prevention program, including fall protection measures.

–Guest Contributor


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An Employer in the Dallas, Texas, Area Faces $87k in Proposed OSHA Penalties

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

English: Site Conference Employees of Watkin J...

English: Site Conference Employees of Watkin Jones Construction holding a site conference at Plas Menai. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Subfloor Systems Inc. of Hurst, Texas, near Dallas faces $87,297 in proposed penalties following an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Investigators with OSHA observed employees at a construction site working without required fall protection, which initiated a formal investigation that occurred on September 19, 2016. This follows a January 2016 citation for an alleged willful violation in an investigation that was the result of an employee being seriously injured in a 22-foot fall.

Jack Rector, Fort Worth area OSHA Director, said that the company has repeatedly been negligent in protecting employees from fall hazards and that OSHA won’t tolerate this type of willful disregard of worker safety. The Dallas area employer is required to provide needed fall protection, to ensure the safety of employees.

The alleged willful OSHA violation that carries a proposed penalty of $87,297 includes the following details:

  • OSHA investigators say that each worker on an unprotected edge or side that was 6 feet or more above a lower level was not protected from falling by use of personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems, or guardrail systems.
  • More specifically, workers engaged in installing drip head flashing material on the west side of the commercial building under construction were exposed to fall hazards without fall protection. A foreman on the second floor balcony was allegedly exposed to a fall hazard of 13 feet to the ground below. In addition, two employees on a third-floor balcony were allegedly exposed to a fall hazard of 24 feet.

All employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment.

–Guest Contributor


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7 Construction Workers are Injured in a Roof Collapse

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

大工と屋根造作・垂木構造

大工と屋根造作・垂木構造 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early this month in Arizona, the roof of a church under construction collapsed, injuring seven people. According to officials, two workers were seriously injured and the other five suffered minor injuries. Prior to the collapse, several trusses had fallen. Other than the roof, most of the structure remains intact. Roofer safety is always an important consideration during construction, especially considering the fact that falls are the types of injuries that occur most frequently in the industry. More than one-third of all fall fatalities in residential construction are caused by falls from roofs.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides information about risks of re-roofing and safe roofing practices. When demolishing old roofs and installing new roofing material, such as shingles or slate, workers performing the roofing work risk permanent injury or death from falls. Even the most experienced roofers are at risk when exposed to unpredictable fall hazards. Sudden gusts of wind, loose roofing materials, uneven sheathing, and slick surfaces are examples of unpredictable rooftop fall hazards.

Employers have a responsibility to train workers exposed to fall hazards. In addition, employers must evaluate fall hazards and take measures to reduce the risk of falls. The following are rooftop safety tips:

  • Wear a personal fall arrest system (PFAS). Three components are involved: an anchorage, a full body harness worn by the worker, and a lifeline or lanyard connecting the worker to the anchorage.
  • Use a ladder of the correct size to access the roof. The ladder should be placed on a level, solid surface. If the ladder is on a deck or porch, secure a board behind the ladder, to prevent slipping. If the legs of the ladder are on dirt or grass, dig holes so that the bottom stays in place.

Roofer safety is an important, life-saving issue. Workers involved in rooftop construction should know their rights and best practices, to avoid a potentially fatal fall.

–Guest Contributor


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A Houston, Texas, Machinery Rebuilder is Cited by OSHA with $155K in Penalties

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Hermann Park in Houston, Texas. Photograph by ...

Hermann Park in Houston, Texas. Photograph by J. Williams. (Feb. 12, 2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In August 2016, The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) followed up on on a February 2016 inspection at Machinery Maintenance Rebuilders Inc. Houston, Texas. OSHA investigators allege that violations had not been addressed. More specifically, they allege that workers were still operating dangerous machinery that did not have proper safety guards, lacked required energy-control devices used to disable potentially dangerous machinery, and was not properly secured. In addition, it is alleged that workers in the machinery repair shop were exposed to amputation and struck-by hazards. The August inspection resulted in two citations being issued, one being a failure to abate violation and the other an alleged serious violation. Proposed penalties amount to: $155,139.

According to the Houston North Office OSHA area director, Joann Figueroa, workers were in danger of losing a limb or their life because they were exposed to machinery that did not have proper guarding. Figueroa said failure to abide by this safety requirement will not be tolerated, and the company is responsible to address and remedy workplace hazards.

The following are more details about the alleged failure to abate alleged violation:

On or about August 23, 2016, and at times prior thereto, in the shop area, employees operating a Tree 2VGC vertical mill, ID # 17, were allegedly exposed to a struck-by hazard because the machinery did not have a point of operation guard. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious safety violation is: $149,652.

The following are more details about the alleged serious OSHA violation:

On or about August 23, 2016, employees working in the shop area were servicing a Bridgeport vertical mill, ID #18A, without the energy sources being locked out, which exposed them to struck-by and electrical shock hazards. The proposed penalty for this alleged serious safety violation is: $5,487.

Machinery Maintenance Rebuilders in Houston had 15 days from receipt of its citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the penalties and citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

–Guest Contributor


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