Worker Accidents Show The Importance Of Following NY Safety Regulations

In November 2010, 27-year-old construction worker Eric Chinchilla was working at a home renovation project site in Greenwich, Connecticut when the walls surrounding the trench in which he was working suddenly gave way, leaving Chinchilla pinned underneath a concrete slab. Despite the fact rescue personnel rushed to the scene, Chinchilla died at the scene from his crush injuries.

Firefighters had to use wooden planks to secure the remaining walls of the trench to try to reach Chinchilla and fire officials said that it was clear that the walls were not properly secured. OSHA initially fined Sosa Construction, Chinchilla's employer, $17,000 for five safety violations stemming from the incident causing Chinchilla's death, including failure to have the employees wear protective head gear on a job site. After OSHA representatives met with people from the company, OSHA reduced the fine to $8,700.

Robert Kowalski, director if the Bridgeport, Connecticut OSHA office, reported that Chinchilla's death is one of 16 workplace fatalities that his office investigated in 2010. Kowalski said that was an unusually high number of deaths for his office to investigate; a more typical year would only entail five or six investigations of fatalities.

According to Kowalski, workplace accidents tend to fall into one of four categories: falls, electrocution, objects striking people or people being stuck between objects. Kowalski classified Chinchilla's death in the "person being stuck between objects" category.

The high number of workplace accidents that Kowalski's office has investigated in 2010 highlights the importance of following workplace safety guidelines. Under the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970, employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces for their employees that are free from dangerous conditions likely to cause death or serious injury, and to follow the safety standards that OSHA establishes. OSHA provides industry-specific standards for construction work, agriculture, maritime work and general industry. If a worker believes that his or her employer is not following OSHA standards for the employer's industry, the worker has the right to have OSHA come and inspect the workplace.

Failure to provide a safe workplace leads to serious injury and, in some cases, death. If you have been injured at work due to unsafe conditions do not hesitate to contact a workers' compensation attorney who can discuss your situation with you.