Scaffolds serve an essential purpose at construction sites. They are temporary structures and help construction workers gain access to higher levels. They also serve as platforms for both the workers and the materials that are necessary to get the job done. The U.S. Occupational Safety Administration (OSHA) estimates that about 65% of the construction workforce in the United States, which amounts to about 2.3 million construction workers, operate on scaffolds. However, it is important to remember that the number of deaths or injuries caused by scaffolding accidents is also higher in the construction industry because of the widespread use of scaffolds.
Here are four things you need to know about scaffolding use and scaffolding accidents in NYC construction sites:
1. There are specific safety regulations.
OSHA has a number of specific regulations designed to ensure the safety of workers operating on scaffolds. OSHA requires that all scaffolding at construction sites must be able to support quadruple the amount of weight it is expected to hold. The structures that support scaffolds should be solid. They cannot be made of loose bricks, cinder blocks or other substandard material. Scaffold planks must also overlap by a minimum of 12 inches and must extend their supports by at least six to 18 inches. If work is being performed overhead, protection must be provided to workers. If workers are operating at higher elevations, they should be provided with fall protection such as harnesses, guardrails and safety nets.
2. Scaffolding accidents are preventable
Scaffolding accidents are preventable. Falls from scaffolds can be prevented by providing workers with good fall protection systems such as guardrails, toe holds and harnesses. One of the most common types of scaffolding accidents we see in New York City is a scaffold collapse or planking failure. These types of accidents can be prevented by not overloading the scaffold with people or equipment and by frequently inspecting the scaffold to ensure proper stability, especially at the beginning of a shift and after any changes that are made to the scaffolding.
Falling objects are also another major cause of scaffolding accidents. These incidents can be prevented by using temporary barriers, screens and a net system, which can catch falling objects. Electrocution is another serious risk for those working on scaffolds. Scaffolding must be kept away from power lines. If workers must operate near power lines, the power to those lines should be turned off.
3. New York’s Scaffolding Law protect workers
New York’s Scaffolding 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. Since this law was enacted in the early part of the 20th century, workers injured in scaffolding accidents have had the ability to bring civil actions against the contractor and property owner responsible for the safety of the jobsite.
4. Injured workers can seek compensation
Workers who have been injured in a scaffolding accident can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. In addition, they may be able to file a third-party claim seeking damages as well. Such claims are filed against responsible parties, other than the employers or co-employees, and can include general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, etc. In cases where a worker dies from injuries suffered on the job, surviving family members may seek death benefits through workers’ compensation and/or file a wrongful death claim against a third party who may be held liable for the fatal incident.
Contacting a Construction Accident 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 medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been 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
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