When it comes to worksite safety, contractors, design professionals and project owners all have different roles and responsibilities. At the same time, responsibility and liability can arise from other circumstances such as statutory and common law, contract terms and conditions, and actions by parties in the project field. The key to the project owner minimizing risks from injured construction workers is to successfully delegate the worksite safety responsibility to the contractor in the language of the contract, and never assert control over the means, methods and procedures of the contractor’s work during the project. Keep in mind that merely retaining the right to stop, inspect or approve work is generally not enough to create owner liability. PennRecord, Nicholas Malfitano, describes a construction incident that involves notable safety issues that were cause to stop the project.
PITTSBURGH – A contractor allegedly seriously injured during a construction project at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Pittsburgh has begun legal action against the hotel and the construction entities it hired, claiming his injuries were the proximate result of their collective failure to make the premises safe.
Mark Beitler of Mars filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 1 versus F.J. Busse Company, Inc., Drury Properties, LLC, Drury Southwest, Inc., and DSW Development Corporation Pittsburgh Exchange, LLC (collectively doing business as “Drury Plaza Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown”), all of Pittsburgh.
Prior to the events in question, the suit says the Drury defendants owned, possessed and maintained the Drury Plaza Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown on Grant Street, for the purpose of developing the structure located thereon to operate as a hotel. As part of the modification, Drury retained and hired F.J. Busse, Inc. to serve as the general contractor to facilitate the property development.
Beitler was employed with Ryco, Inc., a company sub-contracted by Drury and/or F.J. Busse, Inc., whose functions were to provide plumbing and/or fire protection services to the development project in question. During the construction project, the defendants affixed plywood on the top of refuse dumpsters for construction workers, including Beitler, to walk upon in order to dispose of materials and other debris – a condition considered dangerous by the plaintiff, due to the presence of a rectangular, cut-out section of the plywood.
On Feb. 24, 2016, Beitler was on the property of the Drury Plaza Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown, in the course of his employment. As a direct and proximate result of the dangerous conditions described, the plaintiff alleges he was caused to step into the missing floor section and fall from the dumpster onto the concrete floor below, as he was in the process of disposing of refuse.
As a result, Beitler allegedly suffered the following injuries: Left wrist intra-articular displaced distal radius fracture requiring surgical repair, whole-body contusions and trauma, bruises, contusions and other injuries to be proven at trial.
The plaintiff claims the defendants failed to properly or adequately hire, train and supervise its employees and sub-contractors on the work site, violated OSHA regulations regarding the provision of a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or injury to employees and failed to provide and implement work site safety procedures for its employees and sub-contractors, in addition to a litany of other charges.
For two counts of negligence, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of the jurisdictional limits of compulsory arbitration, plus court costs, interest and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and equitable.
The plaintiff is represented by G. Christopher Apessos of Friday & Cox, in Pittsburgh.