Two workers were severely injured in a construction accident after they fell 30 feet when their makeshift scaffolding collapsed Monday in Freeport, Long Island. According to a Newsday report, one worker was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and the other with critical injuries. Officials said the men were building a new home on South Bayview. They were on scaffolding constructed with two-by-four planks. Building inspectors at the scene said the project had the proper permits for the job.
However, they did issue several violations including one for unsafe conditions. Nassau police and officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the incident. The homeowner had hired a company separately to do the roofing and siding work. One of the injured workers, 18, was the son of that company’s owner and the other was an employee, the report states. Both workers suffered severe head injuries.
Dangers Posed by Scaffolding
According to OSHA, an estimated 2.3 million construction workers including ironworkers, steelworkers, carpenters, masons, laborers or electricians, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds, platforms, ladders etc. Protecting these workers from scaffold-related construction accidents may prevent some of the 4,500 injuries and over 60 fatalities each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at a savings of $90 million in workdays not lost.
A recent BLS study also showed that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed them either to the planking or support giving way or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All of these accidents can be prevented or curbed by simply complying with OSHA standards, which set forth safe workplace practices including training and protective equipment for workers operating on scaffolds.
Requirements for Scaffold construction
In 2017, falls accounted for 381 out of 971 deaths in the construction industry, which represents 39.2 percent of all fatalities in the industry. OSHA estimates that about 100,000 injuries each year in the construction industry may be attributed to falls. OSHA standards require all scaffolding to be properly erected, constructed and maintained.
The wood and parts used to construct the scaffolding must be of good quality. Scaffolds should also be kept free of trash, debris, tools, slippery substances, etc. Scaffolding accidents may happen when the scaffolding is not properly assembled, supported, tested or inspected. Scaffolding may also collapse when it is assembled or built by workers who are not properly trained for the job. Falls may occur when the scaffolding or staging is missing critical fall-prevention devices such as handrails, crossbars, guards, nets, etc.
New York’s Scaffold Law Protects Workers
New York’s Scaffold Law requires that construction sites be built and maintained in a way that keeps workers safe. Contractors, construction companies, property owners and other responsible parties can be held liable when a worker is injured or killed on the job and particularly when they put workers at risk of injury or death by violating critical health and safety regulations.
Section 240 of the New York Labor Law is commonly known as the “Scaffolding Law” because it governs the use of scaffolding, staging and other devices that workers use at construction sites. The law primarily requires general contractors, building owners and construction companies to provide the necessary equipment to protect workers from on-the-job falls.
The best way to prevent falls in construction sites is to properly protect workers by providing guardrails and toe-boards as well as fall protective devices such as safety harnesses, safety nets and handrails. Workers must receive training on how to use personal protective devices in a language they can understand well.
The worker or the family members of a worker killed in a construction accident does not need to prove that the contractor or building owner was negligent (careless). Unlike other types of injury lawsuits, an injured worker’s own negligence (carelessness) – unless the one and only cause of his or her injuries – will not preclude recovery under the Scaffolding Law.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Workers who are injured in construction accidents will be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits, which typically cover medical and drug expenses and a portion of lost wages. 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.
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. 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.
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