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Wrongful death suit for worker's I-beam fall settles for $1 million

The family members of a man who lost his life while working on a construction site in West Virginia will receive $1 million after the settlement of a lawsuit filed in federal court.

According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the ironworker was involved in an I-beam accident. He was sitting on an I-beam welding before he lost his balance and fell 18 feet to the ground. He, like many of his co-workers, was wearing a safety harness, but it was not secured and could not protect him.

The fall fractured his spine and sternum, and he was not able to survive these serious injuries. He died shortly after being transported to the hospital.

His family claimed that the employer knew of the dangers that surround ironworkers who must work at substantial heights. However, there were no guardrails or other fall prevention systems in place on the job site.

The lawsuit further alleges that the unsafe working conditions were in violation of one or more safety regulations promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These regulations are in place to prevent workplace accidents in Georgia and throughout the country. By ignoring these rules, the employer placed their workers in harm's way.

This accident could have been prevented if only the employer took safety precautions seriously. Only two months before this fatal accident an OSHA inspector witnessed ironworkers working without fall protection. At that time, the company received a citation.

Their response was to issue a memo to all employees to use fall protection. Though they also had a safety meeting at which this worker was present, the foreman at the meeting said it was okay for employees to move along beams without fall protection, which is against OSHA regulations and the company's own policy. After this man's death, that foreman was suspended for one week for his disregard of the safety policy.

Source: The West Virginia Record, "Century Steel Erectors settles wrongful death case over fall for $1M," John O'Brien, Dec. 3, 2012

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