HVAC Contractor Injured After Fall on Job Site

    OSHA Safety Expert WitnessThis case involves a contractor who fell through a ceiling. The injured party is an HVAC contractor who performed work on an air conditioner for a storage room at the defendant’s facility. The contractor was working alone on an 11-foot high mezzanine. While working on the unit, the contractor reached to remove the side cover when he tripped and fell through the ceiling grid onto the concrete floor below. He suffered a broken right collar bone, broken ribs on the left side, torn bladder and head trauma, and was kept in the ICU for a period of time. Contributing factors for the accident include a space that was not brightly lit, the junction box for the unit was located on an unguarded edge of the open sided floor and not back near the rear or side of the air handler, and the guardrail chain and post system was not installed and chain and uprights were laying on the floor near the leading edge becoming a trip hazard. The plaintiff was not equipped with any safety equipment at the time of the incident.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please discuss your background in setting standards as it relates to OSHA safety.
    • 2. What measures could have been in place to prevent the accident?
    • 3. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case similar to the one described above? If so, please explain.
    • 4. Please tell us why you’re qualified to serve as an expert reviewer of this case.

    Expert Witness Response E-010639

    I have devoted 20+ years of experience to serving as an occupational safety consultant for numerous companies and organizations in various industries. As a consultant, I am contracted to work with my clients to facilitate their understanding of occupational safety. I educate them on how they can establish safety precautions by developing and implementing programs and practices for each segment of their business to ensure that their daily operations comply with all relevant OSHA regulations.

    From what I know of the case description provided, the company is in violation of the following OSHA regulations:

    Each employer —

    (a) (1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
    (2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
    With the work site being on the mezzanine level and factors like not providing adequate lighting, location of the junction box, or the plaintiff not being equipped with fall protection gear, this work site was in violation of a few OSHA regulations including 1910.23 and 1910.132. To prevent such accident from occurring, a job site orientation for the contractor should have been completed prior to the work being done, including consulting on fall protection for the contractor, and a hazard assessment of the site.

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