Collapsing Building Injures Four; OSHA Blames the Employer

Posted on March 22, 2016 at 12:00pm by

Construction jobs can be dangerous if proper safety protocols are not followed. Likewise, destruction jobs can also be dangerous.

Photo of construction area

Late last year, four workers at Newark Liberty International Airport were injured after a United Airlines hangar they were deconstructing collapsed prematurely with the workers inside. Fortunately, none of the injuries were life-threatening, but the incident could have been much worse.

Late last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded that the collapse had been caused by negligence on the part of the contractor tasked with destroying the hangar. According to inspectors, the agreed-upon demolition plan was not followed correctly, and the contractor ordered unapproved cuts to several of the hangar’s supporting structures. The collapse was the direct result of these structure cuts. For the willful violation of safety standards and the agreed-upon demolition plan, OSHA is fining the contractor just under $50,000.

What Is Ultrahazardous Activity?

Some acts are considered so dangerous that the person performing the activity is liable for any injuries to other people, no matter how many steps were taken to prevent the injury. These are called ultrahazardous activities and they fall under the doctrine of strict liability. Some common examples include using or storing explosives, demolition operations (such as the hangar demolition in the above story), disposing of chemical waste and even certain product defects.

In order to determine whether the victims of a hangar collapse like the one above would be covered under strict liability due to ultrahazardous activity, three points must be proven by any potential plaintiff:

  1. The activity involves verifiable risk of serious harm
  2. No matter how much care is taken, the activity comes with the inherent risk of severe harm
  3. The activity is not commonly performed by people in the community.

Victims of workplace injuries involving negligence can be devastating. A personal injury attorney can help victims determine who is at fault and whether they are eligible for damages.


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