Two workers were killed and a third was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center in critical condition after a four-story-high scissor lift fell onto its side on a concrete dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 15. The Miami Herald reported that three Broward County Public Works employees were on the platform scaffold conducting routine maintenance on a passenger bridge that allows cruise ship passengers to disembark from berths at the port. The Broward Sheriff’s Office said that 49-year-old Kenneth Krason and 51-year-old Mark Freeman died at the scene, and a hospital spokeswoman told the Sun Sentinel that 49-year-old Thomas Fischer remained in critical condition the day after the accident.
“We treat safety as our No. 1 priority here,” port director Steven Cernak said during a press conference. “We have training programs in place. We are trying to understand exactly what happened here today.”
While the Herald noted that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires the use of fall protection equipment anytime a fall of 6 feet or more is possible on a construction site, OSHA area director Brian Sturtecky told the Sun Sentinel that the agency does not have the authority to investigate the tragic accident. “Because they are public employees, per federal law, OSHA doesn’t have jurisdiction,” Sturtecky said.
Last August, a construction worker died after falling 15 feet to 20 feet from a scissor lift while he was removing asbestos at the Palm Beach Mall. Sturtecky said that falls continue to be the leading cause of death at construction sites and in general industries. “They are 100 percent preventable,” Sturtecky said.
The families of these workers will undoubtedly want a thorough investigation to determine whether operator error, mechanical failure or excess weight on the lift caused this tragic accident. When seamen are injured or killed while working on a vessel or doing the vessel’s work, they or their families can be entitled to damages under the Jones Act or under general maritime law for unseaworthiness. Port Everglades is a busy waterfront Florida location that certainly sees a number of cruise ship injuries, recreational boating accidents and seamen or crewmember deaths.
Latti & Anderson represents clients from all over the country in all types of accidents on the water. You can find more information about maritime law on our website. If you sustained an injury or your loved one was killed while working on a vessel, complete the form located on this page to let our Jones Act attorneys review your case or contact our firm today at (800) 392-6072 to set up a free consultation.
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