A worker suffered severe job injuries after falling 40 feet onto a concrete floor at a metal forging and fabrication plant in Rancho Cucamonga. According to a news report in The San Bernardino County Sun, the injury accident occurred the morning of March 14, 2012 at the industrial plant in the 11700 block of Arrow Highway. The worker suffered major injuries after he fell through a 3-by-4-foot floor opening that did not have guardrails around it. Firefighters had to make their way down a narrow staircase and then back up with the victim who could only be carried in a chair stretcher. The worker was transported to an area hospital. An investigation is ongoing.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the injured worker and his family for what they are going through at this time. I wish the injured victim the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Falls at the Workplace
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fatal work injuries involving falls deceased by 2 percent in 2010, compared to 645 in 2009. Overall, fatal falls are down 25 percent from the series high of 847 fatal falls reported in 2007. Falls still cause thousands of serious and catastrophic injuries to workers including head injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and other serious internal injuries. The Department of Labor lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death accounting for 18 percent of all workplace fatalities caused by trauma.
What Caused This Industrial Accident?
Based on this news report, it is unclear what the worker was doing at the time and how he fell. There are several unanswered questions here. Was the worker provided with fall protection devices such as harnesses? Under federal law, fall protection must be provided at 4 feet in general industry. Was this worker trained for the job he was doing? Was he equipped with safety devices? Did the company commit a violation by keeping the opening on the floor unsecured and without guardrails to prevent a potential fall? Was the floor where this man was working slippery and dangerous?
Compensation for Injured Workers
In this case, the injured employee will be able to receive workers compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and a portion of lost earnings. However, California workers compensation benefits are woefully inadequate and often do not cover all medical and rehabilitation costs, especially in case of serious injuries where workers have to be off work for a longer period of time.
In such cases, it would be in the injured worker’s best interest to seek the counsel of a reputed San Bernardino personal injury lawyer, who has a successfully handled third party claims. Such claims are usually filed against a party other than the employer and whose negligence caused or contributed to the incident. Examples of third parties include a contractor, sub-contractor or the manufacturer of a defective product. A successful third party claim will provide compensation to the injured worker in addition to workers compensation benefits.