September 27

Wrongful Death of An Electrician

The administrators of the estate of a man who fell to his death more than a year ago are suing the businesses involved in the alleged incident.

On April 23, 2005, the complaint says Garcia fell 23 feet off a ladder and onto a concrete floor, suffering the massive head injury that would claim his life a day later.

At the time, the plaintiffs say Garcia was working for Bailey Electric, which was retained by Parkcrest for a job. EA Morgantown, they add, contracted Parkcrest for the construction at “The District” in Morgantown.

“Garcia was using a ladder in place of scaffolding to gain access from the third level breezeway to the stair landing between the third and fourth levels of apartment complex under construction,” the complaint says. “The plaintiffs further say that as Manuel Luevano Garcia stepped from the ladder to the stair landing, the ladder kicked out while his other foot was still on it.”

The complaint says Garcia was transported to Ruby Memorial Hospital but died the next day.

The untimely and unfortunate death of Mr. Garcia serves as an example of how forgoing best practices in safety and risk management can result in a catastrophic event.

There will always be arguments during a lawsuit, especially in one that involves a death, of who is held liable for the wrongful act that caused an event in the first place. This is nothing new.

What really needs to be looked at is not who to blame for the accident, but how it could have been prevented from ever happening in the first place. The moment in this accident that spelled disaster from the get-go, and that should have been avoided completely, was the use of a ladder instead of scaffolding.

Garcia was using a ladder instead of scaffolding in a breezeway to access a landing between the third and fourth floor. A ladder being used in that situation is completely unsafe for a couple of glaring reasons.

At that height, and especially in an open breezeway, wind becomes a factor. It may not blow the ladder over, but it could easily cause someone to lose their balance and fall. Scaffolding is much safer in this situation, because railings and braces provide a safety net. So even if a gust of wind does blow a worker over, they will be able to catch themselves on the railings.

Slip and Fall
Ladders always have a chance to slip out from under their user, which can be exacerbated by clutter on the floor that could cause the floor to be a little more slippery like sawdust, unfinished floors, and rain (since this was outside). Scaffolding stands on four legs (instead of leaning on a wall) that are all braced and that can be bolted to the floor. If erected correctly, the chance of scaffolding falling down is very low.

It’s very tragic that Mr. Garcia had an accident that cost him his life. If we take anything from a story like this, it’s that best risk management practices aren’t there to waste workers’ time, but to try and make their job as safe as possible.

For more information on risk management for electrical contractors, visit PowerPro.

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