Mural Painter Dies in Florida Construction Accident in Hollywood
Gregg Hollander | November 19, 2016 | Construction Accident
An artist hired to paint a giant mural on the side of a luxury beachfront condo under construction in Hollywood died after falling four stories when the scaffolding he was standing on collapsed. According to The Sun Sentinel, two other painters were also on the scaffolding, but were rescued by their personal safety harnesses.
The 32-year-old decedent, of Miami, was reportedly on a swing stage at the 41-tower site when the stage collapsed shortly after 1 p.m. The two other painters, both 36-years-old, were treated at a local hospital for injuries and later released. The general contractor for the site said work has been suspended while the Hollywood Police Department and the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) conduct simultaneous investigations. Authorities haven’t said at this juncture whether the decedent worker was wearing a safety harness.
The 41-tower building, which is on the border of Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, is slated to accept its first residents in January.
This tragedy highlights the serious fall-related dangers that so many workers – especially on construction sites – face on a daily basis. In fact, falls are the No. 1 cause of death and injury on construction sites, according to OSHA.
Just recently, OSHA reported it was issuing a $143,000 fine to a central Florida roofing company for repeatedly failing to protect workers with fall protection systems as they worked at heights of six feet or more above a lower level. (They also, coincidentally, allowed workers to operate powered nail guns without eye protections.) OSHA had cited this very same employer seven times previously for willful, repeated and serious violations for lack of fall and eye protection. Workers were observed installing shingles at a residential subdivision under construction with no fall arrest systems. This is not only illegal, it’s potentially deadly, as the recent Hollywood case shows.
In the Hollywood construction accident, officials said it wasn’t clear right away if the scaffold fell/ malfunctions due to wires or some other mechanical difficulty. This is going to be an important element in this case moving forward because if the scaffold was defectively designed, it could be grounds for decedent’s family to pursue a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
Most workers who are injured (or the families of those killed) on-the-job are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. This is typically the exclusive remedy for injured workers, who are not able to sue their employers or co-workers for negligence. (The trade-off is they don’t have to prove the company was negligent, only that the injury occurred at work.) However, they can take legal actions against negligent third parties, which could include:
- General contractors;
- Other subcontractors;
- Product manufacturers.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that workers who are independent contractors are not usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits (unless they really are employees who have been wrongly classified by the company). However, those independent contractors can sue the company that hired them for negligence resulting in an injury.
According to the Sentinel, this fatal work accident is the second in six days involving this Florida general contractor. in the other case, a worker was killed at a Miami residential tower construction site when an equipment failure resulted in a collapse of debris to fall 500 feet. A worker on the ground nearby suffered a fatal heart attack. Several others were seriously injured.
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Mural painter who died at Hollywood building site was musician, artist, Oct. 26, 2016, By Linda Trischitta, The Sun-Sentinel