Falls from Catwalks
Given how devastating an injury from a catwalk fall can be, often the best course of action from the outset is to contact a New York catwalk fall injury lawyer. Two events from the past several years will serve to illustrate:
In September, 2011 a worker who was installing a billboard at the Dallas Cowboy’s stadium fell 65 feet to his death from a catwalk. OSHA investigators confirmed that he was wearing a protective harness; however, apparently it was either not anchored or it failed. In a 2009 accident, a Florida man fell 30 feet from a catwalk while working as a theater operation technician. He died of head injuries shortly thereafter at a West Palm Beach hospital.
Common Injuries From Catwalk Falls
Catwalk falls can leave victims with debilitating injuries, if they survive at all. Spinal injuries abound in such fall accidents. Broken bones, crushed organs, and head/brain injuries are common as well. This is when a New York catwalk fall lawyer can be invaluable.
Needless to say, most injuries occur due to the fall. Catwalks may be placed a few feet in the air, such as at an automobile repair shop. More often, though, they are placed high enough to render the result of any fall almost certain death. Individuals who are hurt in a fall may suffer further injury if debris, tools, or other materials fall off the catwalk following his descent.
Workers are not the only group to be susceptible to catwalk falls, either. Catwalks are found nearly everywhere – in shopping malls, over highways, in many theaters and hotels. Just being in the vicinity of a catwalk can be hazardous. If workers place a catwalk above a street to expedite movement as they build, a person who ventures too near the area beneath may be hit by falling objects.
OSHA Rules Regarding Catwalks
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set in place standards designed to reduce the hazards of catwalk falls. They are required to be equipped with a non-skid surface to prevent slips. This can consist of a rough material or grating. Toe boards are also required in order to prevent materials and tools from falling. Catwalks should have railings in place which support a minimum 200 pounds of force. They must also possess a permanent egress, such as a ladder affixed to the side. An extension ladder leaned against the catwalk is not enough. Indeed, it could cause a fall hazard of its own due to its instability.
Finally, the worker is required to be tethered. This both minimizes the possibility of a worker falling off the side, and absorbs most of the energy of a fall if he does. The worker may slip off the side, but he will not hit the ground if the tether is secured and worn properly.
Given that 9 million slip-and-fall injury accidents occur in the U.S. each year (National Safety Council), it is important for anyone using a catwalk to abide strictly by safety standards. Before each shift when a catwalk is to be used, it should be inspected, along with any stays, restraints, lanyards, and ties that support it. New York Labor Law section 240 covers issues of liability in worksite falls. However, safety is really everyone’s responsibility.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York personal injury accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5486) for a free and comprehensive consultation. We can also help with personal injury cases in 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.