Anthony Dos Santos brought a civil personal injury claim against Whitewater West Industries in a Lehigh County court after losing part of his leg in a construction accident. Dos Santos was 23 years old when he and two other workers were moving 40-foot long steel objects with forklifts. Whitewater West is a manufacturer and service provider for amusement facilities. They were hired to create and install a new water park at Dorney Park. The parties recently entered a settlement agreement for $2.75 million.
One of the workers was operating a forklift in close proximity to Dos Santos. The operator stopped the vehicle to allow others to pass. A swinging beam abruptly forced him in front of the moving forklift and struck his legs. Doctors at Lehigh Valley Hospital were forced to amputate the lower portion of his leg. He has undergone additional procedures since and has been fitted for a prosthetic leg.
Dos Santos was directly employed by KP Construction, a subcontractor on the Dorney Park project. Whitewater stated that KP Construction was actually responsible for determining the manner in which these large steel beams were being moved. They also denied liability because Dos Santos was not acting as an employee of Whitewater West at the time. The claim accused Whitewater of failures in supervision and monitoring. In addition, the plaintiff asserted that a truck would have been the safest way to move those long beams.
The plaintiffs lined up experts in anticipation of a potential trial including a mechanical engineer, construction safety specialist, a psychiatrist, and a physical rehabilitation professional. An attorney for Dos Santos claimed that the beams should have been transported in a “much safer way.” There was apparently no supervisor overseeing the work on-site that day as was specified in the contract. Whitewater felt wrongly accused because they were not involved in moving the beams.
Construction Accident Data
- In 2016 there were an estimated 10 million people working in the construction trade
- Safety within the industry is largely overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- OSHA has identified the leading causes of construction-related deaths as “The Fatal Four”
- Falls lead to roughly 384 annual fatalities, which is equivalent to 38% of all such deaths
- Being hit by a moving object results in about 94 annual fatalities, which is equivalent to 9% of overall deaths
- Electrocution takes approximately 82 lives each year
- Being caught between objects claims roughly 72 lives annually
- There are nearly 35,000 forklift-related injuries annually and about 85 fatalities
- The leading types of construction accident injuries are lacerations, punctures, injuries to the eyes, back injuries, and chemical burns, and inhalation.
Negligent Supervision of Workers
Pennsylvania allows for claims of negligent supervision when a servant or agent of a company creates harm through actions of negligence or recklessness. This liability may stem from “improper or ambiguous” instruction or a lack of established procedures. The failure to supervise may be the result of allowing or failing to prevent such negligent behaviors.