Carolina Construction Accidents: A Look at Ruscilli v. Indus. Comm’n.

A Carolina work accident injury can take only a couple of seconds to obtain and a lifetime to live with. It is important to have an experienced Carolina injury attorney advocating for you to help you get the benefits to which you are entitled.
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Ruscilli Construction Co., v. Indus. Comm’n., is a recent workers’ compensation case out of Ohio. This case deals with the required security provisions on construction sites. David Barno (Barno)was a laborer employed by a temporary employment agency. This agency obtained positions on construction projects for its laborer employees. Barno was assigned to work for Ruscilli Construction Company (Ruscilli) on a renovation project.

As is customary on most construction sites, there were openings in the concrete floor that led to the basement. It was a general practice of Ruscilli’s to cover these holes with a sheet of plywood that was nailed down with special construction nails. These plywood sheets were secured in order for them not to be displaced. Additionally, the word “hole” was painted on the plywood to warn employees of the potential dangers. Ruscilli’s would place two plywood sheets on the floor where there was heavy machinery transported; however, the general practice was usually one sheet.

The regular Ruscilli workers knew of the holes in the floor and where they were located. Barno began working on the site and was not aware of the company policies regarding the holes in the floor or where these holes were located. After working on the Ruscilli construction site for three days, Barno’s supervisor ordered him to remove some wood that had been left on the floor. Not knowing that the wood he was lifting was the plywood sheet to cover a hole, Barno lifted the sheet. He lost his balance and fell into a fifteen foot deep hole. Barno suffered severe permanent injuries to his face and head.

Ruscilli extended workers’ compensation benefits to Barno for the injuries he had sustained on the Ruscilli site. Barno then entered a claim for additional benefits and cited Ohio Adm. Code 4123, which Barno alleged that Ruscilli had violated. This code specified the three statutorily accepted ways to cover a hole on a construction site. The statute requires that a hole be guarded by a guard railing accompanied by a toeboard, the use of a safety belt or harness, or a hole cover with a safety factor. Barno argued that the hole cover was easy to move, the plywood was very thin, the plywood was not marked with the warning, and it was not nailed down. For those reasons, Barno asked the workers’ compensation commission staff hearing officer (SHO) to grant him additional benefits for Ruscilli’s alleged violation of specific safety requirements (VSSR).

The SHO granted additional benefits to Barno and Ruscilli appealed the decision claiming that it was not guilty of a VSSR; therefore, it should not have to pay additional benefits to Barno. Additionally, Ruscilli argued that the SHO decision was an abuse of discretion because the decision was based on factual mistakes surrounding the hole cover and the statutory requirements.

Because the court found several mistakes in the SHO decision and in the application of law, the Supreme Court of Ohio held the SHO decision to be wrong. The court noted that there was no statutory language about the requirement that hole covers be difficult to displace.

The court found that Barno was not entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits.

Contact the Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Lee Law Offices, P.A. for legal advice regarding your case and your rights. We are a dedicated law firm that is here to help to protect the rights of injured workers and their families. Call today to schedule a free and confidential appointment. Call 1-800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

State ex rel. Ruscilli Constr. Co., Inc., v. Indus. Comm’n., No. 2012-Ohio-1588 (Ohio S.Ct. Apr. 12, 2012).

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