Construction Accident Falls: Lack of Safety Nets

Preventable falls are routinely cited by investigators as a cause of construction site fatalities in New York City. Safety equipment and devices such as nets play an important role in protecting workers from catastrophic injuries or deaths. When safety procedures have not been followed and/or precautions not taken and workers have not been provided with necessary protection at worksites, the consequences are deadly.

Why Safety Nets Are Important

When workers at a construction site are exposed to vertical drops of 6 feet or more, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide fall protection in one of three ways before work begins: By placing guardrails around the hazard area; by installing safety nets; or by providing personal fall arrest systems for each employee such as harnesses.

Safety nets at construction sites can make the difference between life and death. Guidelines set forth by OSHA state that safety nets “should be placed no more than 25 feet above the ground or water surface, or other surfaces where the use of ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, temporary floors, safety lines or safety belts is impractical.” OSHA guidelines state that safety nets should be able to support the drop of a 400 pound bag of sand when dropped from the highest level at which workers can fall at a particular construction site.

Safety nets must be inspected at least once a week to ensure there is no damage or wear that can make the net ineffective in the event of a fall. OSHA regulations also state that where safety net protection is required, operations “shall not be undertaken until the net is in place and has been tested.” Defective nets should not be used, and defective components must be removed from service. Objects or debris that have fallen into the safety net, such as scrap pieces, equipment, and tools, must be removed as soon as possible from the net and at least before the next work shift.

NY Laws Protecting Construction Workers

New York laws, particularly the state’s Scaffold Law, protects the rights of workers who get injured as a result of falling off a ladder or scaffold. In such cases, in addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits, workers may be able to file a third-party lawsuit or personal injury lawsuit against the parties who are legally responsible to provide a safe worksite.

For example, under New York’s labor laws, a worker who is injured after falling off a ladder can file a lawsuit against the general contractor, a sub-contractor, the site owner, developer or other entities when ladder safety regulations have not been met or ignored.

New York Labor Law Section 240 or the state’s Scaffold Law, also applies to ladder safety. New York’s Scaffold Law (Section 240 of the New York Labor Code) requires contractors, owners and their agents to be responsible for providing necessary equipment such as scaffolds, ladders, hoists, stays, irons, ropes, blocks braces and other devices to keep workers safe from fall-related accidents. This law gives workers who have been injured in ladder or scaffolding accidents the ability to bring civil actions against the contractor and property owner/manager responsible for the safety of the jobsite.

Many construction workers in New York City such as ironworkers, steelworkers, carpenters, masons, bricklayers, painters, window washers, and electricians etc. tend to work from an elevation by using scaffolds, platforms, ladders etc. Falling from heights can lead to serious injuries and often, permanent disability or even death. This is why it is critical to have safety measures in place. Workers must be provided with fall safety equipment. They should also be trained in a known language about how to use this equipment and how to remain safe on the job. Some of the common injuries resulting from falls include lacerations, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, back injuries, paralysis, internal organ damage, etc.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If you have suffered injuries in a construction-related accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.

Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job — one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year. Our law firm also recovered $3,000,000 for a man who fell and suffered two broken legs when he walked into an open elevator shaft. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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