The construction accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have frequently written about worker safety and how often disenfranchised workers are placed in peril and treated indifferently by profit minded employers and developers. This story below augments these points – – and then some. Read it, some of it will alarm you.
OSHA has fined two companies for their conduct in the death of a temporary worker in Houston, Texas. The passing of the unnamed worker took place in June 2013 and the cause of death was heat exhaustion and being forced to work in extreme temperatures. OSHA investigated the death of the day laborer once they became aware of it. One significant point is that they did not learn of it from the companies involved in a timely manner. We are not certain what the temperature was but the tenor of the report suggests that the work conditions were obviously unsafe.
The reasons for the fines are both troubling and revealing. The employer received a fine for “serious violations”, including “failing to provide first aid training and protect workers from heat-stress hazards.” They emphasized that the violations were serious because there was a substantial probability death or serious injury could result because of their conduct. How could a company watch someone suffer and fail to offer any first aid treatment? The temperature these workers were laboring under is not revealed but it is a safe assumption that it was high enough to create a risk of death. Should never happen and would not happen if there was a regard for this worker. Fines were also levied for the failure to timely report the incident and maintain records about the incident. It seems this company was content with as few people learning of this as possible.
It can not go unnoticed that this victim was a day laborer. Nobody should face life or death decisions or risk losing their paycheck. Day laborers are generally well-meaning, hard-working people. They are trying to earn money to pay their rent, bills and build a future for their family. Because of their economic situation and their status in the country, they are extremely reluctant to speak out about safety related injustices. It is easier to just follow orders and bravely do the work. They are in the weakest position possible and employers usually exploit them. This example is a real, albeit horrific, example of it. These companies didn’t treat this worker like a person.
· No first aid?
· Forcing him to work in heat that could kill a person
· Failing to report a death?
· No records of the incident?
It is obvious that these companies were looking out for themselves instead of the vulnerable worker. It is illustrative of why worker safety laws are so important. The Work Injury Lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have long been advocates of injured workers and fight everyday for the laws protecting workers to remain strong. Their commitment to this fight can be seen by looking at their more than 700 million dollars recovered on behalf of injured victims as well as their prominent positions on the Labor Law Committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. To learn more about the work injury lawyers, please see the firm website at www.blockotoole.com. For a free consultation, contact us at 212.736.5300.