Putting Safety First

Putting Safety First

Letter to the Editor

As the owner of a successful construction company and a former professional football coach, safety has always been a top concern of mine. A safe workplace is enormously important to ensure the well-being and productivity of all workers. This being said, in the construction industry, injuries can and do occur on the job. After working in this business for many years, I strongly believe that solutions to on-the-job injuries should be found outside the courtroom.

When used unnecessarily, lawsuits become extremely messy for both parties. Worker’s compensation assures protection to both injured parties, as well as small business owners like myself. In an economy where increasingly large corporations threaten the longevity of our local Florida businesses, it becomes even more imperative for workplace settlements to follow standard procedures, preferably with a mediator.

As an active Tallahassee community member and business owner, I believe individual worker’s safety should never be overlooked. I urge all to seek solutions that prioritize safety through fair and equitable mediation rather than drawn-out court proceedings.

Sam Elliott
Elliott Construction

2 Responses to "Putting Safety First"

  1. I worked for a time at the Office of Insurance Regulation in the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Division.

    From my perspective, the two biggest dangers to Florida’s businesses, especially higher risk working conditions like construction come from two areas.

    1. Covid-19 lawsuits and a rise benefit

    2. marijuana legislation.

    The increasing likelihood of covid-19 litigation from workers unto Florida small businesses needs to be nipped in the bud by legislation and use of by a common insurance term called an Act of God.

    This is very, very concerning if he litigations run rampant, also we run a risk of a astronomical rise in long-term disability benefits claims.

    The second concern is the breakdown of the “drug-free workplace”. National Council on Compensation Insurance, NCCI, did a study on the impact of the Reagan era push for a drug free workplace.

    They worked, and amazing well, we saw a fall in injuries that directly correlated to the policy. Over time a decline in 20%.

    Marijuana comprises 98% of the illicit drugs that a worker will use on the job or even after work. Except for a rare person, any harder drug usually makes the person unemployable rather quickly.

    Marijuana cannot be tested like a alcohol breathalyzer, the tests can only show if a person has THC in their body, no WHEN they imbibed. This makes knowing if someone is high at work or high from weakened very difficult to tell.

    Also, marijuana does lower coordination skills, short term working memory, and problem solving skills. All the things you need on a dangerous construction site.
    Workers Compensation

    The Florida Statutes Ch 440 puts the burden on the injured worker to show either dangerous workplace or gross negligence for a lawsuit to begin.

    If you’re carrying a WC policy, and keep a clean record of you work sites, and make an effort to know and be there for your employees, you be surprised how much litigation you can avoid.

    Also, circuit court judges require a lot of proof before they’ll allow a WC case to move forward for gross negligence, as hag is is the most severe of the four types of negligence it requires resounding proof.

    Workers’ Compensation Insurance was designed to remove the litigation from the process, to make accidents a blameless event.

    I‘ve attached a link to a blog about how to reduce WC litigation.

    Similar to how automakers try to “get ahead” of a recall, you don’t wait until after it’s happened and you don’t shy away when it has happened. You go right to parties and make them feel cared for and that their work mattered to you, because in the end that’s what we all are looking for: validation that our labor made a difference.

    Florida business of all types would be served well to make contact with the injured and let them know that they won’t be forgotten.


  2. our company is being sued by an individual. We went to mediation and it was determined that they were committing fraud by lieing about the damage. We have been paying lawyer since 2016. The courts have not addressed this yet.

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