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Jon Pina. MS CSP

Case Synopsis:

The plaintiff, a laborer working for an asbestos removal contractor, was injured when he fell while removing transite, asbestos containing concrete siding panels, from a barn. The transite siding was attached with bolts to the second level wooden structural members on the outside of the barn. The plaintiff was apparently working on the ground or from a step ladder inside the barn to remove the nuts from bolts, using a torch or grinder, in order to detach the transite panels. He allegedly stepped on a rotten beam, causing the beam to break under his weight, thereby causing him to fall out of the building to the concrete ground below.

Expert Analysis:

For the project undertaken, the general contractor was required under OSHA to perform a structural/safety assessment before any individuals were requested to come to work there to conduct pre-demolition activities. Yet, no structural analysis assessment of the buildings was performed by the general contractor or owner. [OSHA 29 CFR 1926.850(a)]

An "unsafe" structure includes one that is in a state of dilapidation, deterioration or decay; one that is vacant or abandoned and open to public trespass; and/or damaged by fire or otherwise hazardous to anyone on or near the premises. Unsafe structural elements are those which are badly damaged, deteriorated or missing, with additional structural deterioration expected unless remedial action is taken. An unsafe condition occurs when an element, member or appurtenance, including walls, begins to fail, or to become detached or dislodged. The general contractor was required to complete a structural/safety assessment before any individuals, including asbestos abatement contractor employees, were requested to come to work there.

The structural assessment would have clearly identified the specific dangers contained in the buildings such as rotten wall timbers. By not performing a structural engineering assessment, the general contractor or owner created a hazardous condition and falsely reassured workers on the property that the buildings were safe to perform their requested tasks. A structural assessment of the buildings should be completed before asbestos abatement bidders are invited to prepare a bid, so the bidder can assess how much the asbestos abatement will cost to prepare an accurate bid and so the bidders can determine if additional safety measures should be utilized in order to protect its employees.


The case was settled favorably for the plaintiff.

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Jon Pina, MS, CSP, is a Safety, Health, & Environmental Expert. With more than thirty years experience in safety management, loss prevention, construction and demolition, coal, chemical, steel, and hazardous waste abatement, Mr. Pina can observe cases from a well-rounded viewpoint of a Safety and Health professional, construction manager, and �hands on� worker. Among his most notable accomplishments, he has held the position of Construction Manager on many large-scale demolition projects. He also has demonstrated expertise in areas such as the operation of chemical plants and gained field experience as a union journeyman pipe fitter.

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