Two construction workers became stuck on the eighth floor of a building in the Financial District after a scaffolding collapse sent debris falling to the street below the afternoon of Sept. 30. According to news reports, the workers were brought down by firefighters and emergency medical personnel evaluated them for injuries. The building was at 60 Wall Street. No injuries were reported at the time.
Scaffolding on the eighth floor was being secured at the 47-story office building, FDNY officials said. According to the New York City Department of Buildings, the NYPD called for an inspection after debris fell from the building. A witness wrote on Twitter that glass fell from a window at the Deutsche Bank tower. It is indeed fortunate that no workers or bystanders were injured in this construction accident.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds. Protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents may prevent some of the 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths each year, statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show. In a recent BLS study, 72 percent of workers injured in scaffolding accidents said their accident was caused by the planking or support giving way, or because of the worker slipping or being struck by a falling object.
Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
Construction companies, contractors, property owners, managing agents and other parties have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their crew and workers. Many construction workers such as ironworkers, steelworkers, carpenters, masons, bricklayers, painters, window washers, and electricians etc. tend to work from an elevation or height by using scaffolds, platforms, ladders etc.
All workers must not only be provided with job and safety training in a language they can comprehend, but also with personal protective equipment such as fall safety devices (harnesses, safety nets, guardrails, etc.), goggles for eye protection, ear protection, steel-toed boots, hard hats, etc. Scaffolding accidents can result in catastrophic injuries or deaths. Here are some of the most common reasons they occur:
Improper construction: It is very important that scaffolds used at construction sites are properly constructed using the right materials. A professional should oversee its construction to ensure that the scaffolding or staging is safe and compliant with OSHA standards. Often, a number of construction companies and contractors tend to use shoddily constructed scaffolds that lack safety features. When a scaffold is constructed with substandard materials, or in such a way that it is unable to withstand the weight of the workers, it may cave in or collapse. Weak planking, failures at attachment points, parts failure and defective equipment are all routinely cited as causes for scaffolding collapses.
Inadequate fall protection: Companies are required to provide workers with fall protection devices such as harnesses, safety nets and guardrails. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.
Environmental factors: It is the job of supervisors at a construction site to keep track of weather conditions such as high winds, which may cause scaffolds to collapse and lead to serious injuries and fatalities. Work should be suspended or stopped when dangerous conditions exist and pose hazards to the safety of the workers on scaffolds.
Lack of proper training: A majority of New York City’s construction force consists of immigrant workers. When these individuals are not provided proper training in their own language, they are unlikely to properly understand safety procedures and protocols. It is the duty of construction companies and contractors to ensure that all workers are properly trained.
Protecting Workers’ Rights
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. 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 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, 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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