The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, recently announced a fine of over $85,000 against several contractors who, collectively, were responsible for work on an infamous Florida pedestrian bridge.
This fine only pertained to OSHA’s findings that these contractors had violated several of the agency’s rules that were designed to protect workers from injuries. Other penalties are possible, although sources indicate criminal charges are unlikely.
As many residents of West Palm Beach recall, this pedestrian bridge, which was on the campus of a university in nearby Miami, suddenly collapsed last spring, killing 6 people. One of the victims was an employee of one of the contractors. Several others who were working on the bridge suffered serious injuries because of the collapse.
While the collapse of this bridge was an anomaly that attracted the attention of the national news media, the reality is that at construction sites, structures, scaffolding and the like can and do give way if they are not properly engineered or assembled.
It is the responsibility of the businesses involved to protect their workers from fall hazards associated with poor construction. Likewise, poorly constructed artifices can also crush workers on task below the structure.
Fortunately, for the victims and their families, workers’ compensation benefits should be available to them through Florida’s system, as the system is designed to ensure injured workers get the care and support they need. Still, while it is pretty clear this accident was work-related, there may be some disputes over exactly how much the businesses owe.
Moreover, the workers who were victims of this tragedy or their families may have other legal options, beyond asking their employers to pay workers’ compensation, that could lead to additional relief.