Case Synopsis: The Plaintiff, an independent, was injured when he was struck by a pile of concrete forms that fell on him as he was attempting to manually adjust the straps that secured the forms on his flatbed truck. The load of concrete forms were stacked on his truck by the Defendant's forklift operator as a favor to help the Plaintiff remove his materials from the construction site. The Plaintiff blamed the Defendant for improperly stacking the forms on his truck.
Expert Analysis: It was my opinion the Plaintiff caused the shift and collapse while he was attempting to secure the load with the straps when the bundle fell on him. It was my opinion he did not recognize the load to be unstable to the point of collapse as he jumped up to grab the strap he threw over the load from the opposite side of the truck. The Department of Transportation (DOT) manual specified the driver was responsible for securing and checking his load. The forklift placed several loads of the forms and left long before the pile collapsed.
The Plaintiff failed to properly assess the hazard of standing and jumping too close to an unsecured load. Having no previous accidents or stating "nothing happened yet" is no excuse for failing to have an adequate Safety and Health Program. OSHA expects employers to conduct hazard assessments and develop a written Safety and Health Program. "Failing to plan is planning to fail" is OSHA's belief when it comes to requiring written plans and policies. The Plaintiff failed to work safely by not having adequate safety policies and procedures along with adequate site specific training on how to secure loads on flatbed trucks. The Plaintiff failed to follow OSHA because he had no employees.
The Plaintiff should have made at least a mental job hazard analysis (JHA) and been aware of the hazard of being crushed by a heavy load of concrete forms.
Result: The case was settled favorably for my client, the defendant, after my deposition and just before trial was to begin.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Jon J. Pina has over thirty years of experience in Safety Management, Loss Prevention, Consultation for Demolition, Construction, Coal, Chemical, Steel and Hazardous Waste Operations. Mr. Pina's experience includes Construction Manager, Chemical Plant Operator, Plant Maintenance and Union Pipefitter. He is an independent consultant and is presently on the faculty of Indiana University of PA Safety Science. Mr. Pina has also taught environmental, earth and space science for five years in the Pennsylvania public school system.
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