“If you are going to be the supervisor, then lead” was the sentiment after a jury found an Iowa City landlord guilty of gross negligence in the death of an employee and ordered him to pay $5.6 million in damages to the family. The forty-year-old victim and father of three died after falling 12 feet from a household ladder while performing maintenance on a property in 2014.
According to newspaper accounts, prior to the accident, the employee asked to use the customary boom truck, equipped with with a basket and safety rail to perform some repairs on a building awning. His boss allegedly denied his request in favor of convenience, a decision which compromised the employee’s safety.
Details emerging from the case reveal that the prominent apartment rental company had no safety program in place despite owning several multi story properties in the area. Following an investigation by the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the business was cited for serious safety violations saying that employees had not been trained to avoid hazards, did not have proper safety gear, and were permitted to use ladders on uneven surfaces.
A recent CDC study spanning a decade reveals that 20 percent of all worker injuries and over 80 percent of construction injuries involve ladder falls. According to the findings, of all occupational injuries, falls are the leading cause of death with nearly half attributed to ladders.
Because falls are a leading cause of work related injuries and deaths, it is recommended that employers and their supervisors plan ahead by considering how work will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment is needed for each task. Fall hazards should be identified and addressed beforehand and every worker should be trained on recognizing hazards and the proper set up and safe use of equipment. Unfortunately, if employers do not step up and take responsibility for running a safe operation, a worker’s risk for preventable injury increases.
If you or a family member has been injured at work, contact the workers compensation, personal injury attorneys of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for help today at 563-355-6478 .
Source: Des Moines Register, “Iowa City landlord ordered to pay $5.6 million in worker’s death”, by Ryan Foley, February 13, 2018.