Welder Awarded $1 Million After Falling From Scaffolding

July 22, 2015

A welder who was injured in a 2010 oil rig construction accident was awarded $1 million, reports the Daily Journal of Commerce.

According to the Daily Journal, Charles Pamplin was one of hundreds of workers hired to work on a BP oil rig that would be sent via ship to Alaska. The Houma, La., resident fell from unsecured scaffolding while working on the rig in Vancouver.

The fall shattered his left foot and heel and left him with chronic pain and limited mobility, reported the Daily Journal.

Pamplin's attorney argued during the trial that the fall could have been prevented if the company had followed its own safety procedures.

Often times the realization that companies are not adhering to safety procedures occurs following an accident in which a worker is either injured or killed. It's crucial to report breaches in safety at all levels regardless of outcome in order to foster a successful culture of safety among employers and employees.

However, "near miss" accidents, where personal injury or equipment damage does not occur, still go unreported. The reasons behind not reporting a "near miss" vary, according to safety software manufacturer Wise Businessware.

Wise Businessware stresses the importance of reporting near miss accidents and how an attitude of safety complacency can trickle down to its employees, who have the most to lose should an accident occur.

Wise Businesware lists the eight common reasons 'near misses' go unreported:

1. Complacency: Employees become comfortable with the way things are and are willing to put up with minor inconveniences because they perceive it to be easier than fixing the situation. 

2. Concerns about blame/complaints/punishment: Employees can develop a fear or concern of being blamed for a near miss incident, especially if they have seen a negative reaction to a near miss reporting in the past.

3. Complicated process: If the process of filing a near miss report is complicated, too time consuming or confusing, workers are reluctant to submit a report.

4. Peer pressure: Coworkers can see the reporting of a near miss in a few ways. They can see it as the action of a hero or a zero. If the one reporting the near miss is seen by his coworkers as trying to get on management's good side and comments are made to the such, he may be less likely to report near misses, especially if the near miss happens to one of his commenting coworkers. 

5. Concern about reputation: Employees are often concerned that reporting near misses that happen to them will make them appear to be accident prone, especially if other coworkers are not reporting their own near misses. Management now has a record of his safety performance and can compare it to his coworkers' performance.

6. Don't want work interruptions: All workers have deadlines and/or quotas to make. Reporting a near miss means at the very least, stopping work to fill out a report and possibly several hours of additional down time.

7. Avoid red tape and bureaucracy: Beyond the natural aversion of many people to fill out page after page of paperwork, some companies may require the employee to speak of his near miss at meetings and/or to be on a committee to give his insight.

8. Lack of recognition/feedback: If an employee reports a near miss and never receives any follow up information as to how the situation was rectified, or is never acknowledged in a positive manner for filing the report, that employee is less likely to file a near miss report in the future.