Falls from scaffolds have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. If you work in the construction industry, you know that despite the dangers associated with heavy machinery and equipment, the greatest danger faced by construction workers is falls. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of construction deaths in the United States.
According to OSHA’s statistics, out of 4,674 worker fatalities in private industry in the calendar year 2017, 971 or 20.7 percent were in construction. That means, one in five worker deaths that year was in the construction industry. The leading causes of private sector worker deaths in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution and caught in/between. These “fatal four” were responsible for more than half (59.8 percent) of all construction worker fatalities in 2017. Falls alone accounted for about 39.2 percent of construction site deaths nationwide.
Falls from Scaffolds
A majority of construction workers and laborers operate from several feet about the ground. Therefore, a fall may be catastrophic. Scaffolding creates one of the most significant fall hazards in the construction industry. A vast majority of construction workers such as ironworkers, steelworkers, carpenters, masons, laborers or electricians tend to work on scaffolds. When scaffolds are not constructed properly or are defectively designed or managed, a fall may be imminent. A scaffolding accident may lead to catastrophic or fatal fall-related injuries.
There are a number of reasons why scaffolding accidents occur. For example, when the sides of a scaffold are not properly guarded, they offer little to no protection for workers as they operate close to the edge. Also, it is important to remember that when scaffolding rebars are not capped properly, the protruding edge can cause workers to trip and fall. Scaffolds are also typically built before use. When the connections of the scaffolding are not fastened properly, the stability of the scaffold becomes questionable. A scaffold that is unstable may potentially collapse causing workers to fall.
Falls from Ladders
In addition to scaffolds, ladders also pose a significant threat to construction workers many of whom find themselves having to climb on ladders to do their jobs. When a worker falls from a ladder, the result can be catastrophic too. Ladder injuries can be particularly devastating when the falls involve extreme heights or when the ladder is faulty, or the ladder is placed on uneven ground.
Ladder accidents might also occur because of the negligent (careless) co-worker who does not do his part to alert you to dangers. Inclement weather such as heavy winds may also play a part in ladder accidents. A number of ladder accidents might also occur due to workers’ contact with power lines. Electric shock may cause workers to fall or the electrocution in itself may prove fatal. In addition, falling debris such as discarded or waste material, machine parts or hand tools etc. contribute to eye injuries and fall accidents.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Construction companies, general contractors, sub-contractors and property owners and managing agents have a legal obligation to ensure that their worksites are safe. In addition, workers must be provided with safety equipment such as fall safety devices (harnesses, safety nets, guardrails), safety goggles, earplugs, hard hats, etc.
All workers should be provided with the safety training necessary for the job, regardless of whether they are union or non-union and whether they are legal citizens or UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS. Everyone has the right to be safe.
Workers who are injured in construction accidents may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits, which typically cover medical and drug expenses and a portion of lost wages. Families that have lost loved ones in a construction accident may be able to seek death benefits. In addition, workers and their families may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for substantial money damages against a number of parties, and therefore 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. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitative treatment, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
If you have suffered injuries 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, 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.
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.
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