Recently, Municipal District Services, LLC in Cypress, Texas was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for willful violation of health and safety laws. The reason was due to a trenching collapse that led to one worker’s death and another’s injury.
The tragic accident occurred when workers were attempting to repair a water main. Municipal District Services excavated a 16-foot long, five feet wide trench through a concrete road. Two workers went into the trench to clean and cut a broken pipe. Yet roughly 10 minutes later, the south wall of the trench caved in.
In citing Municipal District Services, OSHA’s area director stated that while excavating and trenching may be hazardous, they can be performed safely through use of proper safety equipment like trench boxes. The willful violation was given for failing to give vulnerable workers cave-in protection when working in an excavated area or trench. A violation is considered to be willful when the company does so intentionally, knowingly or with voluntary disregard for the law, or with indifference to the health and safety of workers. Municipal District Service’s willful violation carried a penalty in the amount of $63,000. The company now has 15 days from receiving the OSHA citation to do one of the following: comply with the requirements, request a conference with the San Antonio office of OSHA, or contest the citation in front of the Independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
In Texas and in other parts of the country, when workers are injured in construction accidents, they typically file a claim for workers compensation. Workers compensation payments are based on whether the employer carries workers compensation insurance and the worker is an employee rather than an independent contractor. If an employer carries workers compensation insurance, an injured worker must accept workers compensation payments in place of the right to file a lawsuit. The benefit is that the worker can still receive payments regardless of whether he or she was at fault in the accident, which is not true with litigation.
However, a worker may be able to file a lawsuit if the accident was caused by a third party. Third parties at fault may include property owners, architects, contractors, and equipment manufacturers. These parties may have a responsibility to warn of hazards on the site, to coordinate job safety, and/or to ensure that certain safety precautions are being followed. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their equipment is safely designed and put together. Those who live in Texas and were injured by a third party in a construction accident should consider finding an experienced personal injury attorney today.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a construction accident that was caused by a third party, you may be entitled to compensation, including medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. The experienced San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Carabin & Shaw may be able to help. Call our office for more information at 1-800-862-1260.