Plaintiff was an Apprentice Plumber working at the Construction Renovation of a Coffee House.
Prior to the incident, the Plaintiff was conducting work in the vicinity a crew of workers employed by the General Contractor. The workers were in the midst of removing an existing set of overhead cabinets, which were long in length and configuration.
At the time of the incident, the Plaintiff walked directly underneath the overhead cabinet being demolished by the General Contractors crew, when the cabinet fell directly onto the Plaintiff, striking the Plaintiff in the head. The falling cabinet also caused the General Contractor's crew to fall from their positions on top of the ladders they were working from, as they were in the midst of demolishing the cabinet.
The relevant Regulations include:
CAL/OSHA CONSTRUCTION SAFETY ORDERS
Article 3 - General, Section 1511. General Safety Precautions
Advanced Planning Suggested for Construction Work, Plate A-2-a
"Each operation of a construction job should be planned in advance. Such planning is needed at all stages of the project..."
"Construction planning will eliminate some accidents automatically by creating a well-organized job. But expert planning give special attention to safety; and thus is highly effective in making the operation safe and efficient."
1. SAFE ACCESS & MOVEMENT
"(1) Adequate work areas."
"(2) Adequate walkways and runways."
2. SCHEDULE WORK FOR SAFETY
"(a) Have safety materials on job when needed, i.e. personal protective equipment, shoring, first aid, etc.
"(b) Plan work so that too many trades are NOT in a small area at the same time.
Article 31 - Demolition
Section 1734 - Supervision
"(a)(1) Prior to permitting employees to start demolition operations, a qualified person shall make a survey of the structure to determine the condition of the framing, floors, and walls, and the possibility of an unplanned collapse..."
Section 1735 - Demolishing Buildings
"(d)(1) Prior to starting demolition, all structural or other hazardous deficiencies noted during the survey required by Section 1734(b)(1) shall be shored, braced or otherwise corrected as recommended in the survey."
"(d)(4) During demolition, continuing inspections shall be made as the work progresses to detect hazards resulting from weakened or deteriorated floors or wall, or loosened material"
In the overall, Plaintiff contended that the Defendant was below the Standard of Care and not in Compliance with OSHA Regulations in conducting the demolition at the Coffee House renovation, by failing to adequately plan for safe access and movement, as well as safe demolition operations (by planning for potential collapses and/or by bracing structural components being demolished). Specifically, the Plaintiff contended that the Defendant failed to barricade the demolition area from access by other trades, including the Plaintiff, as well as failing to properly support the overhead cabinet to prevent the cabinet from falling unintentionally and striking workers during the demolition process. Plaintiff also contended that the Defendant failed to properly plan and warn of the demolition work such that other trades were unaware of the demolition process.
The Defendant alleged that the Plaintiff had adequate awareness of the demolition process, and that the Plaintiff put himself in harm's way by walking into an active demolition zone. The Defendant also contended that the Plaintiff had no reason to work or walk underneath the cabinet as it was being demolished at the time of the incident.
WEXCO's Construction Accident Analysis Team was retained as the Safety & Construction Expert relative to:
- Evaluation of the overall renovation and demolition processes and the actions of the various Parties and People in conformance with applicable Regulations (i.e. Cal/OSHA Construction Safety Orders, OSHA General Industry Safety Orders, etc.), and Industry Standards (i.e. Manual of Accident Prevention for Construction, by the Associated General Contractors of America, Demolition Safety Manual, by the National Association of Demolition Contractors, etc.).
- Analysis regarding the responsibilities and conduct of the Plaintiff, and Defendant General Contractor, relative to work access within the construction zone, where the demolition of the cabinet was taking place, and the planning, practices and protocols involved with the demolition of the overhead cabinet
- Evaluation of the Plaintiff and Defendant's actions relative to safe conduct.
- Analysis regarding the accident mechanics (accident reconstruction) involved in the falling cabinet relevant to the demolition methods, sequences, and positioning of the various Parties involved with the subject incident. WEXCO's analysis including the development of various sketches and demonstrative evidence graphics.
The above referenced incident occurred in San Jose, California, and was analyzed and inspected by our Los Angeles office Engineering staff.
WEXCO has over 20 years experience successfully serving the legal industry. Our highly trained staff have investigated over 10,000 cases, delivered over 2,000 depositions and provided testimony in over 600 trials.
WEXCO has offices in California and Texas, but has been called upon to testify in cases throughout the country.
Dr. Stephen C. Wexler: 40 years experience in construction, construction management, safety and related. Unusual combination of safety engineering and construction and civil engineering permits separate areas within construction, safety, and premises liability. 6 years Instructor at UCLA Evening Extension in Engineering & Construction Management, and 4 years US Navy Seabees Instructor for Construction Management - Port Hueneme, CA and Gulfport, Mississippi.
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