Scaffolding Collapse Leaves Two Roosevelt Island Workers Dangling

Firefighters rescued two window washers who were left hanging from a scaffold after it collapsed on Roosevelt Island the morning of May 11. According to a WABC News report, the scaffolding collapse occurred at a building on Main Street and a video from Citizen App showed that the scaffolding had fallen to one side. Fire officials said when they arrived, they saw two workers suspended from the scaffolding.

Dramatic Rescue

One of them was “free hanging” on a safety line and the other worker was still holding on to the scaffolding, officials said. Firefighters began the rescue operation by sending their truck ladder before securing the men with ropes. They then pulled them into the building through a window of an unoccupied apartment.

Based on a preliminary investigation, officials say one of the motors on the scaffold malfunctioned, causing it to move faster on one side than the other, triggering the collapse. The investigation is ongoing. It is indeed fortunate that these workers did not suffer major injuries in this incident.

What Causes Window Washing Accidents?

Window washers are a common sight in New York City. While injuries and fatalities may be rare among workers who wash windows, when they do occur, they can be devastating. One of the most common causes of window washing accidents in New York City is scaffolding failure or collapse. When a scaffold or lift
that is designed to carry a cleaning crew is defective or not properly constructed, it may collapse and result in serious or even fatal injuries. The scaffold or lift should be thoroughly inspected before the work commences and before each use.

Workers count on fall protection devices for safety on the job. When these devices fail or don’t work as intended, the consequences may be deadly. Cleaning crews must also receive both job training and safety training. They must be provided with safety devices and clear instructions on how to use them correctly. They should also know how to react when something goes wrong. Proper supervision must be provided for cleaning crews.

Laws Protecting NYC Workers

Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. 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. Worksites must have safety measures in place to prevent workers from falling off overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes or shafts. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in long shoring operations.

New York has laws in place that provide protections for cleaning crews. Section 202 of New York Labor Law requires all building owners, property managers and companies that employ cleaning crews to use proper safety devices. The law also requires the building owner to provide structural features, anchors or other fixed devices to ensure the worker’s safety. In addition, New York’s Scaffold Law (Section 240 of the Labor Law) requires property owners, managers and contractors to provide window washers with proper fall protection devices such as nets, harnesses and lifelines.

These laws place strict liability on the property owner and general contractor if the worker is injured or dies as a result of not being adequately protected. Such parties may be held financially responsible in cases where a ladder, lift or scaffold is faulty and leads to the worker’s injuries or death. Injured victims here can seek workers’ compensation benefits, which typically cover medical and drug expenses and a portion of lost wages. In addition, he or she may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for substantial money damages against a number of at-fault parties, and thus have two sources of compensation.

Third-party claims are filed against parties other than the employer or co-employees and may include general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, managing agents, construction companies, 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.

If You Have Been Injured

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.

Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:

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

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