Settlement reached after worksite collapse causes injuries, deaths

Workers have the right to safety in the workplace, the ability to earn wages in an environment that is secure and without threat to their health and wellbeing. Yet sometimes employers fail to provide such an environment, resulting in tragedy.

Four workers were killed and five more suffered injuries after a five-story, concrete garage collapsed on a college campus in southern Florida. Wrongful death and injury lawsuits were filed against the general contractor and numerous subcontractors responsible for construction of the $20 million project.

The worksite was so unstable that the body of one man killed in the collapse could not be recovered for a week.

In recent weeks the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had fined the general contractor and four other companies in excess of $38,000 for the collapse. OSHA noted missing welds and grout in some support columns, improperly braced columns and failure to inspect 18 columns, which is required. OSHA further said contractors had not followed project drawings and instructions. According to OSHA’s citations, there was a failure to provide a work environment that was free of hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

Attorneys representing the families concerned announced settlements had been reached; the terms of the settlements remain confidential.

A spokesperson for the general contractor named in the suit later said the company was happy an amicable agreement had been reached. A further statement from the company noted their primary concern was the future of the injured workers and those who lost family members, adding that the company was committed to determining the specific cause of the incident to prevent the possibility of any similar instances in the future.

Source: Source: Claims Journal, “Workers, Families Settle Over Florida Garage Collapse,” May 3, 2013.