Accidents of cleaning staff
The cleaning staffs who wash and polish the glass panels that frame our skyscrapers undoubtedly have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. While a doubles person working for the film industry can earn much more and get a wider spread say, climb the tallest building in New York, a worker who cleans the windows of one of the numerous skyscrapers in the city leads to routinely do such daring feats while at work. There is no doubt that many window cleaners in New York City put their lives on the line every time they set out to do their job.
These window cleaning personnel have to work from suspended scaffolds and elevators. It is crucial that these workers are provided with adequate safety equipment, training and supervision. Deaths in this industry can be rare. But when accidents occur, members of the high-rise cleaning crew can suffer catastrophic or even fatal injuries. New York law offers special protection for injured window cleaners and the families of those who die at work.
Window cleaning in New York City
According to the New York Times, the «tallest and most glassy» buildings have been the recent trend in New York City. This has led to more work for window cleaners. The Time Warner center at Columbus Circle takes three months to clean up with two crew members and it could take several personnel from six to nine months to clean the New York tower by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street. All this additional work comes with an increased risk of accidents.
Housekeeping personnel face numerous hazards in any city, but working in New York City is particularly dangerous due to the many high-rise buildings and the difficult weather conditions, such as high winds, snow and ice. Only experienced workers who have received adequate safety training should be allowed to work. In many ways, these members of the cleaning crew are required to be as strong and as agile as rock climbers. In fact, window washing companies often mention this requirement in their job advertisements and claim that it would be suitable work for experienced climbers.
The dangers of glass cleaning in New York
There has been a series of accidents with serious injuries related to window cleaners in recent years in New York City. In December of 2007, for example, two brothers collapsed 47 stories to the ground while they cleaned windows on the Upper East Side. Only one of the brothers survived the fall. During that same year, a man died when he fell 12 floors. In 2012, two window washers were trapped in a 40-story scaffolding above Avenida de las Américas in the center. They were stranded until the firefighters were able to cut through the glass to rescue them.
According to the International Glass Cleaning Association, deaths are very rare in the window washing industry. A recent article in The New Yorker about windows of the washers pointed out that window washing work in the United States is significantly safer than driving a taxi. There was one death in the window washing industry in 2011 and two in 2010. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were a total of 646 drops in all industries in 2010 of which 10 were in the industry wash window. Out of those 10 falls, seven resulted in a fall to a lower level.
What causes these tragic accidents?
There are several reasons why window washing accidents could occur. These accidents can prevent if the necessary safety precautions are taken. These are some of the factors that frequently intervene in the window of washing of accidents in the city of New York:
Bad weather: Wind, rain and snow can make glass cleaning extremely difficult and dangerous. Supervisors should tell workers to stop working when the winds pick up. They should never be done to get out in the inclement weather. For example, workers should be informed when a storm front approaches. A sudden gust of wind at this point can swing a scaffold out of control and cause the worker to fall. For this reason, window washers should be provided with safety harnesses that adjust them to the construction if they slip and fall.
Scaffolding accidents: A faulty or poorly constructed scaffold can cause a worker to fall. The scaffold or elevator used to transport the cleaning equipment must be properly inspected before cleaning work begins.
Defective harnesses or cords: Window cleaners have safety devices such as harnesses, safety cords, anchors and other accessories to keep them safe. When these products fail, the consequences can be disastrous. For example, a defective rope or harness may contribute to a fatal fall.
Lack of safety devices: When window cleaners are sent to do their job without the proper safety equipment and accessories, the consequences can be devastating as well. It is the employer’s duty and responsibility to make sure that workers have the safety equipment they need to do their job.
Lack of proper training: In addition to getting the necessary training to do the job of cleaning high-rise windows, workers should be taught how to use safety devices. Adequate supervision must be provided at the work sites.
The New York Window Cleaning Act
Section 202 of the New York Labor Law offers protection for workers involved in window cleaning. Under this law, all building owners, property managers and companies that employ cleaning equipment must require the use of adequate safety devices to clean the exterior of the building. In addition, the building owner must ensure the provision of structural features and anchors or other fixed devices in the building for the safety of the window cleaner. These features must be present for a window cleaner who is allowed to clean the exterior of the building. What this means is that the cleaning crews should not even be allowed to clean a building until the proper protections are in place.
The provisions of this section, however, do not apply to multiple dwellings six stories or less in height; any building that is three stories or less in height in cities with a population of less than 40,000; and the windows or outside of buildings that may be exempt.
New York scaffolding law or Section 240 of the New York labor law and other sections of this law, protect window cleaners and other workers who work at height. This law requires owners, managers and contractors to provide workers with adequate fall protection devices, such as anchor points, harnesses, nets and lifelines.
This and other articles of the labor law also place the strict liability of the owner of the property and the general contractor if the worker is injured or dies as a result of not being adequately protected. Such parties could be held responsible in cases where a ladder or scaffold is defective and causes the window cleaner to fall from the higher elevations. This objective liability statute means that contractors and building owners can be financially liable for the injuries of a window cleaner, even if the victim was partially responsible for the incident and for their own injuries, and even if the victim was the principal ( but not the only) cause of the accident.
Safety glass standards
The International Glass Cleaning Association (IWCA) developed safety standards to prevent accidents in this high-risk industry. This set of standards was approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 2001 and established guidelines aimed at providing a safer work environment for high-rise cleaning equipment. Under these standards, building owners and managers must create a safe workplace for window cleaners and provide a written plan each year that addresses a series of safety measures, including, but not limited to, the inspection. of permanent window cleaning equipment installed on roofs. Examples of these equipment include equipped platforms, supports, anchors and permanent ladders.
Owners and managers are also required to provide maintenance records and inspection documents for the window cleaning contractor. The contractors to carry out their services in compliance with the laws and local, state and federal codes. Workers must be trained to safely operate all equipment used in the job. Certifications and training tests must be available. Any equipment that interferes with the work must be designed, maintained and inspected in accordance with industry standards.
Injuries suffered by cleaning personnel
The injuries suffered by the members of the cleaning crew can vary from simple sprains and strains to those that are potentially fatal. When workers fall from a higher elevation, they can suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. Other types of injuries suffered by victims of window washing accidents include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, broken bones, damage to internal organs, etc. Many suffer permanent injuries, which leave them incapacitated and unable to earn a living. These types of serious injuries usually involve significant medical expenses, hospitalization expenses and rehabilitation treatments. Some victims may require a lifetime of treatment and care, which could amount to millions of dollars.
Compensation for Injured Workers
Crew members cleaning their injuries should report their injuries to their employers immediately and seek medical attention immediately. Injured workers are entitled to receive compensation benefits from their medical expenses employers and a portion of lost wages. In addition to workers’ compensation, injured window cleaners may also be able to present what are known as «third-party claims» against entities other than employers, for significant monetary damages.
For example, if a window cleaner was injured in an accident caused by a defective scaffold, the worker can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective scaffold. If a dangerous condition on the property or building caused the accident, the owner of the property or building owner or administrator may be liable. If negligence on the part of a contractor or subcontractor caused the accident, then those entities may also be liable.
Injured workers can receive compensation to cover damages, including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation treatment, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. The family of a deceased worker can file a death claim for negligence of compensation for loss of future income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
It is important that injured workers or their families refrain from rushing into settlements with insurance companies. It would be in the best interest of the victims to first talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases in New York City. At the workplace victims of accidents and their families will benefit from the services of an experienced lawyer who will fight for their rights. Once an agreement is signed with the other party, victims may be unable to obtain additional compensation, even if they incur medical and other expenses as a result of their injuries. This is why it is important to take all possible factors into account before agreeing to an agreement. For example, A window cleaner who has suffered a catastrophic injury and is unable to return to the work force can ask for compensation for future lost earnings and benefits. If he or she is injured permanently or with a disability, the person may be able to obtain compensation for those damages as well. You would be good advice to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately after your accident so that all your rights are protected.
Contact an experienced lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a window-cleaning accident in New York City, experienced personal injury attorneys in Kenneth A. Wilhelm’s legal office can help you better understand your rights and legal options. With more than 42 years of experience, we work tirelessly to help obtain the best possible compensation for injured victims or those who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person. Our law firm has recovered many millions of dollars for injured people.
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 lawyer fee unless we recover money for you. 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 states of the United States, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other telephone numbers at no cost to us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, or 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: http://www.WORK4YOULAW.com