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Pittsburgh Premises Liability Law Blog

Asbestos exposure in unconventional places

Health risks are minimized, if not eliminated, as long as toxic substances are stored, contained, used and deposed of safely. Asbestos becomes dangerous only when the mineral's fibers are disturbed. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers can cause severe medical problems like mesothelioma and other cancers.

The majority of asbestos cases you've probably heard or read about, in or outside Pennsylvania, have probably involved direct and repeated exposure to asbestos fibers. Many of us associate that with workplaces, where asbestos was once used in large quantities to manufacture products. However, industrial settings aren't the only places where you'll find victims with asbestos-related diseases.

Polished floor blamed for Pittsburgh slip-and-fall accident

The smooth, shiny look of a newly-waxed floor is appealing to the eye. But, floor polish also reduces traction between a walking surface and the sole of a shoe, creating a safety hazard. A slip and fall in someone else's home or on a commercial property may cause broken bones and back and head injuries, adding up to significant medical expenses and lost wages.

A recently-filed lawsuit blames the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a venue, where the Block Communications-owned newspaper held an event in August 2013, for a woman's injuries. The alleged victim and her husband claim the wife was seriously injured, after falling at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh.

Diseases related to asbestos exposure

Some naturally-occurring mineral fibers become health risks when they are disturbed. Airborne asbestos fibers can attach to skin, clothing and hair. The miniature fibers also can be inhaled and become lodged in a person's lungs, where they later cause chronic and deadly health problems.

Allegheny County workers in many industries were exposed to asbestos before laws in the 1970s restricted the use of asbestos throughout the country. Curbing asbestos use reduced asbestos exposure from new products, but didn't eliminate dangers among products already available. Many construction materials, including drywall and insulation, contained asbestos.

Work-related injuries for exposure to dangerous chemicals

Work-related injuries happen to all sorts of employees at all types of jobs in all types of industries. The medical field is probably the most dangerous industry out there, with approximately 45% of all workplace injuries in the U.S. occurring in the healthcare sector, according to Medical News Today. Most of the accidents that occur affect nurses, nurses' aides, and orderlies; however, there is another very dangerous position employed by hospitals: housekeeping.

A recent article by Pittsburgh City Paper's Rebecca Nuttall digs deep into the strife of being a housekeeping employee at UPMC-operated facilities here in Pittsburgh. One worker says that the cleaning product, OxyCide, provides a sensation in the eyes similar to that of cutting onions, and that it also burns his throat and causes headaches, telling the reporter that there really is no course of action to combat the unpleasantness other than taking a break somewhere with available fresh air. 

Pittsburgh snow removal rules and premises liability claims

You may be among those people who agree one of the greatest things about Allegheny County winters is when they're over. Clearing icy sidewalks and shoveling snow can take a lot of time and energy, especially when nature decides to send successive winter storms to the area. The added seasonal work is unwelcome, but necessary to keep others from getting hurt.

Slippery sidewalks and snowy parking lots require the attention of property owners, operators and, in some cases, tenants. Local ordinances and state premises liability laws direct property owners to make reasonable efforts to safeguard visitors. Dangerous conditions may result in a slip-and-fall victims' unnecessary pain and suffering and, for the property owner, fines and a possible lawsuit.

How do Pennsylvania employers reduce workplace fire hazards?

Pittsburgh employers often realize how inadequate a company's safety practices are after an on-the-job accident. Until then, some Allegheny County business owners refuse to take safety issues seriously. The mindset can be that purchasing or updating safety equipment cuts into profits or that providing safety training takes workers off production lines.

Think about the people injured in industrial accidents. You don't often hear about company executives – the people with authority to make safety decisions -- being hurt or killed. The victims are often powerless workers, who weren't instructed how to operate safely in a potentially volatile environment or respond during a fire or explosion.

Injuries Pittsburgh victims suffer in slip and fall accidents

Wet, icy, snowy parking lots, walkways and floors are invitations to get hurt. Allegheny County residents are used to treading carefully to avoid these dangerous conditions, but the responsibility for safe passage isn't all on pedestrians. Property owners are required to plan for and notice hazards on site and take measures to prevent slip and fall accidents.

Some slip and trip injuries cause minimal damage, like bruises and soreness, but others generate a lot more discomfort and expense than many people realize. Back injuries, among the most common results of a fall, can be brutally painful. More than one in four fall injuries nationwide cause damage to the spinal cord.

Property safety responsibilities for Pittsburgh store owners

You probably don't shop at an Allegheny County store expecting to suffer any injury other than a slam to your wallet. That's because you expect – and have a right to expect – Pennsylvania shop owners and operators to plow snow-filled parking lots, treat icy sidewalks and otherwise keep customers' safety in mind.

Premises liability laws help balance the importance between store sales and safety. Adults aren't the only shoppers protected from store owner negligence. Commercial establishments also can be held responsible in civil claims for children's injuries caused by indifference to safety issues.

Burn facts and benefits for injured Pennsylvania workers

Nine percent of 2013 injuries requiring hospital burn unit admissions in Pittsburgh and across the country were related to on-the-job accidents. An American Burn Association report stated 72 percent of serious burns between 2003 and 2012 occurred in homes. Motor vehicle accidents and recreational activities accounted for another 10 percent of burn hospitalizations.

Allegheny County residents may associate burns with skin and tissue injuries caused by flames, but burn injuries happen in several ways. Fires, explosions and related smoke inhalation have been the source of most burn deaths every year including about 2,550 deaths in fires in homes, 150 fatalities in non-residential blazes and 300 vehicle crash-related accidents. Another 400 victims suffer fatal burns caused by scalding or coming in contact with electricity or hot objects.

What are the responsibilities of Pennsylvania property owners?

When you attend a party at a friend's home in Pittsburgh or do business at an Allegheny County retail establishment, the owner or operator of the property is responsible for your safety. If you're injured during a visit, the owner's level of responsibility depends upon what type of visitor you are. The property owner must take reasonable precautions -- not extraordinary ones -- to make sure you aren't injured.

The highest level of owner concern is reserved for visitors classified as invitees. As the name implies, these visitors have been issued direct or indirect invitations by an owner to enter a property. Invitees include business or store customers and individuals asked to come into a home to make repairs.