An Essex County, NJ, jury awarded a local construction worker $2 million in response to claims that a serious eye injury occurred when a nail gun misfired on a residential framing job in October 2012, leaving the worker "industrially blind" in one eye, according to NJ.com.
Edwin Encalada was working for NHS & BJ Enterprises, subcontracted by Rock Ridge Construction Management, when he attempted to use a nail gun and a small object shot back into his eye as a result.
The jury found Rock Ridge negligent for not instructing on proper eye protection that, in this case, could have prevented the injury.
Construction is an inherently dangerous trade. Authorities are beginning to take a more active role in pursuing criminal charges against contractors if they find reason to think management's negligence led to the injury or death of a worker.
In New York City, one contractor was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter after a 2015 trench collapse killed 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo. Moncayo had been working in an unprotected excavation when he was crushed by collapsing walls. Third parties had warned management at the contractor, Harco Construction, and Moncayo's employer, Sky Materials Corp., that the site was unsafe.
Developments in federal regulations are reshaping how the industry handles job-site safety violations. For example, OSHA's latest move to raise maximum civil fines by 78% across the board aims to comply with a federally mandated rate rise. However, such a significant hike also holds companies more accountable for violations after they have happened, and it encourages better monitoring of rules and regulations before an accident occurs.
The Trump administration's deregulatory position could threaten other safety-related policies. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) said the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 has so far saved the lives of 553,000 workers across all industries. As such, the organization said, President Donald Trump's deregulation stance, repeal of OSHA rules and budget cuts to training programs could make workplaces less safe.
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