Highlighting just how dangerous the construction industry can be, two construction workers in Florida recently fell to their deaths in a scaffolding accident. The men died during a scaffolding collapse that sent them plummeting approximately six stories. One other man was injured, while a fourth made it safety.
Though officials have not said what caused the scaffolding failure, falls from heights are among the leading causes of construction worker deaths. Too frequently, workers are not given the proper safety gear to protect themselves in case of a scaffolding collapse, putting them at risk of fatal injuries.
Construction Workers Killed at Hotel Site
On August 29, 2018, up to 20 construction workers were on site at a hotel project in Orlando, Florida, to pour concrete. At around 4:15 a.m. the scaffolding four men were on collapsed, sending two men plunging six stories. At the time of the scaffolding fall, work was being done at the top of the project. According to officials, both men died at the construction site.
Killed in the accident were 34-year-old Lorenzo Zavala and 46-year-old Jerry Bell.
One other man got to safety before he fell, while a fourth grabbed the scaffolding and pulled himself up. That man suffered minor injuries.
“I’m just thinking of where it could’ve collapsed, what part,” said Joe Colon, an iron welder. “OSHA’s there every day, they go around taking pictures, that’s why I don’t get it.”
Scaffolding Collapsed at Site of JW Marriott Hotel
The scaffolding failure happened at the site of an upcoming JW Marriott Hotel, dubbed the Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort. When finished in 2019, the luxury resort will have 516 rooms and a variety of amenities, including a ninth-story rooftop bar and a spa. The project itself is worth an estimated $282 million and sits on the 14900 block of Chelonia Parkway.
A spokesperson for Marriott International said the company was deeply saddened by the tragic accident and offered thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families. Spokesperson Jeff Flaherty also noted that developer DCS Investments manages the hotel’s construction.
OSHA Investigating Scaffolding Collapse
OSHA and the Orange County Sheriff’s office are investigating the accident. Officials have not yet said what caused the scaffolding to collapse or if the victims were wearing harnesses at the time of the accident.
“It’s a very sad, tragic incident that occurred here early this morning, and we do have some family members on scene,” said Ingrid Tejada-Monforte, a spokesperson with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
According to OSHA, approximately 2.3 million construction workers work on scaffolds. Around 4,500 injuries and 60 deaths occur each year due to issues with scaffolding, including the planking or supports failing, the employee slipping, or an object striking the worker.
Employers are required to provide scaffolding fall protection to employees who are on scaffolds of more than 10 feet high. Fall protection includes guardrails and personal fall arrest systems, such as harnesses.
Failure to do so puts employees at risk of fatal falls or permanent injuries and could make the employer liable for any injuries resulting from a fall, as well as pain, suffering, and medical bills. It could also make the employer liable for a scaffolding death.
Construction Industry Attorneys
At Cutter Law, we know how vital it is to hold construction companies accountable for ensuring their employees work in a safe environment. This means providing adequate protection to ensure construction workers aren’t placed at unnecessary risk of catastrophic injuries.
Employees who have been harmed by a lack of proper protection can file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for their injuries. That lawsuit, however, can also hold construction companies accountable for their decision to put profit or efficiency above employee safety.
We are committed not only to protecting the rights of our client but to protect the rights of all California construction workers, who face countless hazards daily on the job. Whether they have fallen from a height, been involved in a heavy equipment accident, or been struck by an object, we’ll fight to obtain justice for all workers harmed on a construction site.
We’re honored to have successfully represented construction industry workers and fought for strengthened safety regulations.