October 2011 - New OSHA Directive May Affect Personal Injury Cases In Missouri

The Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA) recently began enforcing a new residential fall protection directive. This new directive not only affects residential building companies, but it also affects personal injury and workers’ compensation cases in the St. Louis region. Your St. Louis injury attorney must understand how OSHA regulations can become an important part of your claim to recover for an injury suffered on a job site or construction site.

The Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA) recently began enforcing a new residential fall protection directive. This new directive not only affects residential building companies, but it also affects personal injury and workers’ compensation cases in the St. Louis region. Your St. Louis injury attorney must understand how OSHA regulations can become an important part of your claim to recover for an injury suffered on a job site or construction site.

Every day, millions of workers go to work and expect to find a workplace that is free from hazards. As attorneys who represent the interests of our injured clients, we recognize the importance of safe working conditions on job sites. According to OSHA, its mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” It is hopeful that the fall protection directive will help reduce the some of the most-serious cases handled by personal injury attorneys in the Missouri area: those where workers fall over six feet.

The construction industry safety standard at issue is 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13), which states that workers involved in residential construction six (6) feet or more above lower levels should be protected by fall protection systems such as guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. This standard is part of the broader standard 29 CFR 1926.501, which provides fall protection guidelines for different types of employers.

Todd Muchnick and Aaron Haber are St. Louis injury lawyers who have represented clients who have been seriously injured because of violations of OSHA standards. The injuries sustained by these clients include skull fractures, broken spines, fractured bones, neurological damage, and many other serious injuries. Recognition of the OSHA standards at issue has been important in obtaining maximum recovery for our clients. In Missouri, OSHA regulations can be offered as evidence of the standard of care owed by a party at trial. This means, that a personal injury attorney can use an OSHA expert to tell a jury how a defendant violated a safety standard.

The situations involving personal injuries suffered on a job site vary from case to case. One example of a case we handled involved a man who suffered a broken leg and nerve damage when he was struck by falling equipment in the pit of an elevator shaft. The case settled for $700,000 at mediation. For more information click here. Attorneys who represent elevator accident victims may look to certain OSHA standards involving confined spaces under 29 CFR 1910.146 and lockout/tagout procedures contained in 29 CFR 1910.147.

We have also been involved in other cases involving falls down improperly guarded holes on construction sites. Falls down holes on construction sites may result in serious spine injuries such as herniated discs, compression fractures, and burst fractures. OSHA regulations generally require fall protection to prevent such falls. For example, guardrails or barriers may be used to guard against falls down holes. Information on these systems can be found in 29 CFR 1926.502(b). The top edge of a guardrail should be approximately 42 inches above the working or walking level on the job site. The guardrail should also be capable of withstanding a force of at least 200 pounds.

There are many other scenarios where violation of OSHA standards might affect you personal injury case or workers’ compensation claim. For more information on how the St. Louis personal injury attorneys at Muchnick and Haber can help you, please contact us.

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