June 27, 2019
The family of a construction worker who fell to his death at a worksite after a nail gun fell on him has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple construction companies and a property developer.
The worker, whose death highlights how dangerous construction accidents can be, was only 38 years old and was in a coma for almost a week before he died from his injuries.
Our highly skilled attorneys are committed to obtaining justice for anyone whose life has been drastically affected by a construction site accident and are strong advocates for increased safety regulations in the industry. Too many lives are put on the line by hard-working men and women who suffer needless harm while performing their job.
Worker Died After Nail Gun Hit Him
Francisco Silva was a foreman working for a construction company in 2018. As part of his job, he was taking measurements on a staircase at a construction site when a worker three floors above him hung an industrial nail gun on a hook. The gun fell off the hook, hit Silva’s head, and knocked his hard hat off.
The force of the blow caused Silva to plummet to the concrete floor below him, a drop of approximately 10 feet. Silva suffered a skull fracture and broken vertebrae. He remained in a coma for six days before his family took him off life support and he died of his injuries.
At the time of the accident, Silva was working for Nueva Castilla Metal Fabrication. Silva’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against two other construction companies and the developer of the complex Silva was working on when he died.
Cal/OSHA Fines Three Companies Linked to Silva’s Death
Cal/OSHA investigated the accident and listed Silva’s cause of death as complications related to blunt trauma to his head and neck. The agency found that of three employers on the construction site, not one ensured adequate safeguards to protect employees who were working below an elevated work area. Under California law, canopies or other barriers must be used to protect such employees from falling equipment or debris.
The agency cited Nueva Castilla and Michael Roberts Construction for not ensuring there were stair railings in place before employees worked on the stairs. Those railings might have stopped Silva from falling to the concrete beneath him. Both companies were handed fines of approximately $75,000 for five serious violations. Sheehan Construction was fined $26,275 for its role in the accident, including the worker not disconnecting the nail gun from the air hose.
The companies are appealing the fines, but those appeals are on hold while Cal/OSHA’s Bureau of Investigations reviews the accident. Nueva Castilla has only one other accident listed in Cal/OSHA’s database.
OSHA’s Construction Fatal Four
Both of the scenarios that resulted in Silva’s construction death—struck by an object and falls—appear on OSHA’s list of the Construction Fatal Four. According to OSHA, one-fifth of work-related fatalities occurred in construction. Of construction industry deaths, the Fatal Four—falls, struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between accidents—caused almost 60 percent of fatalities. OSHA notes that eliminating the Fatal Four would save almost 600 worker lives a year.
Meanwhile, a five-year review of fatal occupational injuries in California conducted by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA, and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Program, found that the construction industry had the second-highest number of fatalities, with 309 construction deaths in the five-year period. The industry also had a high fatality rate, with almost six fatalities per 100,000 workers.
Too many construction workers and their families have had their lives upended by entirely foreseeable and preventable construction accidents. Too often, construction companies get away with violating the rules and their workers or other workers onsite are the ones who pay the price, suffering serious, life-threatening injuries as the result of negligence.
At Cutter Law, we believe it is vital that such companies and their owners be held accountable for their actions. Often, fines alone are not enough to force these companies to change their practices and strengthen their safety processes and in such cases, a lawsuit may be necessary to get justice for their victims.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a construction accident, you deserve the highly skilled and knowledgeable representation of a law firm that has dedicated years to protecting the rights of construction industry workers. Our attorneys have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients and put the same dedication into every claim.