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Construction Worker Killed after Elevator Shaft Fall in Midtown

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elevatorshaft A worker at a building that is under construction in Midtown Manhattan was killed in a construction accident after a platform in the elevator shaft collapsed causing him to plunge 30 feet to his death. According to a report in The New York Times, the fatal incident occurred the afternoon of Aug. 25 at 577 Ninth Avenue, close to 42nd Street. Rescuers found the worker unconscious and unresponsive at the bottom of the elevator shaft when they arrived at the scene.

Alleged Violations

Officials said the victim, a 30-year-old man, had been working at the building’s second-floor mezzanine level when the platform that he was on gave way. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The New York City Department of Buildings issued a full work stop order and halted the construction of the proposed 28-story tower.

The news article reports that 400 Times Square Associates owns the building under construction and that the construction permit had been issued to BRF Construction. Buildings Department officials have also issued violations to BRF alleging a failure to safeguard and failure of a concrete-safety manager to provide a work logbook. BRF Construction had been hit with a prior violation in March. Records indicate that this construction company had paid $12,000 in fines for that violation which involved a worker who was without a harness while climbing up a rebarred wall.

NYC Construction Accident Statistics

New York City saw a 62.5 percent drop in fatal construction accidents in 2013 compared to the previous year. There were three fatal construction accidents in 2013 compared to eight in 2012. All three fatal accidents in 2013 involved workers who fell due to the lack of proper fall protection. However, during that period, the total number of construction accidents increased by 5.7 percent and injuries increased by 4.3 percent. Also, during 2013, the New York City Department of Buildings issued 5,812 full and partial stop-work orders in response to unsafe construction site conditions.

The Importance of Fall Protection

This tragic construction accident once again demonstrates the need for fall protection in work sites. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Federal and state laws require employers, building owners and managers to secure and set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off overhead platforms, elevated work stations, elevator shafts, or holes in the floors and walls at construction sites.

OSHA requires employers, building owners and managers to provide fall protection at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in longshoring operations. OSHA also requires that fall protection be provided to workers when they are working over dangerous equipment or machinery, regardless of fall distance. Here are some steps employers, building owners and managers can take to prevent workers from falling:

• Guard and secure all holes in floors into which a worker can accidentally walk. This can be done by using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover.
• Provide a guardrail and toe-board around every elevated and open-sided platform, floor or runway.
• Provide fall protection devices such as guardrails and toe-boards regardless of height or fall distance.
• Provide other types of fall protection that may be required depending on the job such as safety harnesses, safety nets and stair railings.

Compensation for Workers’ Families

When a construction worker is killed on the job, the consequences can be devastating for his or her family. A family may be looking at immediate expenses such as medical, funeral and burial costs. They may also be looking at the loss of their primary wage earner or sole breadwinner. Such a deprivation has the potential to financially devastate a family.

When a worker is killed on the job, families can seek compensation by filing for workers’ compensation death benefits through the employer. However, in such cases, families can also file what is known as a “third party claim” for significant money damages. Such claims are filed against a party other than the employer whose action and/or lack of action may have caused or contributed to the victim’s death.

Third party claims are usually worth much more than workers’ compensation benefits. Example of third parties against whom such claims may be filed include, but are not limited to, general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, building managers, manufacturers of defective products, etc.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction 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. 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.

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 cases in 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.

Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com

Source: The New York Times

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