New York City is known globally for our impressive buildings and skyline. These buildings, and even the scaffolding, are iconic and a source of pride for New Yorkers.
Tragically, when workers’ safety is not a top priority for companies, job-site accidents can cost lives, quality of life and ability to earn income. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 65% of construction workers frequently work on scaffolds. OSHA estimates that following safety protocols can prevent about 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year across the nation. It would also save American employers about $90 million in workdays not lost each year.
The New York Scaffold Safety Law
In March 2021, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) released a fatality report, “Deadly Skyline: An Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State.” One of the report’s main recommendations was to preserve the Scaffold Safety Law (Labor Law 240).
The law simply requires all construction sites to be built and managed in a way that protects workers. Meaning, construction companies, contractors and sub-contractors are responsible for providing and enforcing the proper use of safety equipment when using scaffolding. For example, all ladders, safety harnesses and hoists must be regularly inspected and properly maintained. Additionally, hardware and materials used to construct and secure scaffolding materials must also be inspected, repaired and maintained daily.
The New York Labor Law 240 also gives construction workers and their families the right to sue an employer or the building site owner if they are killed or injured due to a scaffold construction accident.
New York Scaffold Accident Statistics
Across New York State, fall fatalities continue to be the top cause of construction fatalities. Over the past 10 years, they accounted for 48% of deaths and the number skyrocketed to 68% in 2018. These numbers are continuing to go higher as overall construction deaths increased by 10% in 2019.
Falls from scaffolds make up 25% of construction deaths in New York. Ninety percent of the fatal accidents investigated by OSHA revealed at least one major safety violation was cited. The most common citations included violations of scaffold safety standards, training requirements, and fall protection standards.
Common Scaffold Hazards
- Slippery platforms
- Missing guardrails or toe boards
- Falling objects
- A scaffold collapsing due to broken pins
- Defective platform planks
- An overloaded scaffold tipping over
- Climbing up a scaffold due to not have access to a ladder
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones
- Organ damage
- Spinal cord injury
KDLM has represented many construction workers who have suffered head and traumatic brain injuries, damage to internal organs and broken bones, and who are at the same time coping with severe physical, financial, and personal losses.
KDLM recovered $25,000,000 for a 55-year-old Westchester man who suffered a traumatic brain injury when a structure on which he was standing collapsed during a demolition and construction project. KDLM obtained a finding of liability as a matter of law against the owner of the property under New York’s “scaffolding law.”
Builders and subcontractors who cut corners and cause construction workers and pedestrians severe injury or death should be held accountable when it comes to scaffold safety. If you suffered injuries in a scaffolding-related accident, call an attorney at KDLM today at (212) 267-4177 to discuss your case and options. You can also reach out to our New York personal injury lawyers online through our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.