Workers’ Safety in Jeopardy Due to Mishandled Inspections
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jul 13, 2016
Workers’ safety in the city of Philadelphia may be in jeopardy due to the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) failing to do its job correctly. To be sure, a recent review over a nine-month period conducted by the Inspector General’s Office found that the L&I failed to follow proper demolition guidelines in over 80 percent of cases. When demolition guidelines are not followed, workers are at an increased risk of harm.
80 Percent of Cases Mishandled
According to a December 2015 article in Philly.com, the report released by the Inspector General’s Office found that in 57 out of 100 permits, inspectors from L&I improperly passed at least one inspection that should have failed.
The mishandling of cases is occurring despite newer guidelines for the L&I, which were implemented after the 2013 collapse of the Market Street Salvation Army thrift store, which killed six people. Despite the new demolition requirements, from January to October of 2015, only 14 private demolitions, out of 82, were correctly inspected.
More Changes for the L&I
In response to the Inspector General’s office audit, changes have been recommended for the L&I. According to a different article in Philly.com, key recommendations founds in the Inspector General’s report include:
- Separating building inspection from business licensing;
- Expanding the capacity of the law department for enforcement reasons;
- Creating the position of ‘Chief Safety Officer’;
- Creating a project manager position;
- Creating the position of ‘Director of Vacant and Abandoned Properties’; and
- Other funding and staffing recommendations.
Implications for Workers
The fact that 80 percent of cases are mishandled by the L&I is most concerning for workers. When major projects, like demolitions, are not property inspected and conducted, construction and other workers are at serious risk of injury. These injuries include crush injuries, broken bone injuries, head and traumatic brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, bleeding injuries, and death.
Who Is Liable for Workers’ Injuries?
In most cases, workers’ compensation insurance will pay for workers’ injuries that are incurred on-the-job. However, when the workplace accident would not have occurred but for the actions of a third party, that third party may be held liable as well. Because of the laws of sovereign immunity, which protect government entities from liability, it is essential that you have a skilled workplace accident attorney on your side if you believe that your injuries would not have occurred but for the errors of a public body, such as the L&I. Third party liability claims against a non-government entity are also possible.
Contact an Experienced Workplace Accident Attorney Today
If you have been involved in a workplace accident that was caused due to a third party’s negligence, you need an experienced Pennsylvania workplace accident attorney on your side. At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we can help you to understand the difference between workers’ compensation and third-party liability claims, how to file each claim type, and what you will need to prove. To request your free case consultation with our attorneys today, contact us now at (215) 567-3500.