New York’s vast cityscape is unique for its massive buildings and skyscrapers, Accidents in New York which also mean the constant presence of construction and building maintenance. Scaffolding has been utilized for decades to enable workers to reach stories above the ground with stackable structures of metal and boards that support workers, materials, and equipment. Pedestrians must often traverse tunnels of scaffolding alongside buildings, protecting them from the work being done overhead while still providing sidewalk space.Accidents in New York
Despite the inherent dangers of working stories off the ground, New York construction workers have a right to a safe working environment. When companies skirt safety requirements and expectations, accidents, injuries and deaths are only a misstep away. If a worker, pedestrian, or resident is injured or killed because of scaffolding safety violations, construction companies and property owners can be held liable.
Despite the many safety precautions required by law, scaffolding accidents are routinely among the top causes of construction-related accidents across the U.S. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) tracks the rates of these accidents in the construction industry and their causes, defines the standards for equipment and materials, and visits construction sites to conduct inspections.
In 2021, the most commonly cited standard following OSHA construction worksite inspections was in regard to fall-related protections. These citations are issued when a worksite is not compliant with safety standards such as harnesses, supports, and braces that can keep a worker or equipment from falling. The fifth most commonly cited standard specifically surrounds issues related to scaffolding in terms of safety, security, and stability. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 55 fatalities resulting from construction scaffolding in New York in 2021 and 1,034 fatalities across the U.S. that same year, with scaffolding-related injuries being much more common.
Potential For Catastrophic Injury
Whether two or twenty stories off the ground, the impact from a fall or dropping equipment can cause serious injury, life-changing or catastrophic injuries have lasting repercussions that can affect a worker’s livelihood and their family.
Injuries associated with scaffolding collapses and falls include bone breaks, internal injuries, brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as fatalities. Collapses can also cause equipment and materials to fall which can lead to blunt force injuries for both workers and pedestrians.
Scaffolding assemblers and dissemblers face particular risks as they work on incomplete structures. Ensuring all workers are properly trained and versed in maneuvering scaffolding materials is essential to the safety of everyone at or around the scaffolding site.
Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
The majority of scaffolding accidents can be avoided by compliance with OSHA standards and regulations. Many serious accidents or fatalities are the results of the scaffolding giving way, the worker slipping, the absence of safety protection, or falling equipment or materials. Foremen, supervisors, and companies as a whole are responsible for ensuring a safe work environment for the calculated risk associated with the job. Some of the most common causes of preventable scaffolding accidents are the direct result of:
- Improperly assembled scaffolding
- Improperly maintained or supported scaffolding
- Scaffolding that has not been tested
- Scaffolding assembled by workers who are not appropriately trained or supervised
- Incorrectly secured or stabilized scaffolding
- Scaffolding that lacks handrails, crossbars, guards, nets, etc.
- Weather conditions
- Substandard materials
New York Scaffolding Law
Section 240 of New York labor law, commonly known as the “Scaffolding Law,” refers specifically to construction scaffolding and requires that any scaffolding or staging more than 20 feet off the ground be bolted in place, and also have a safety rail that meets exact specifications. All scaffolding must be built to hold four times the maximum weight it will hold while in use. Companies, property owners, and individuals who do not comply with this law can be held liable in the event of an accident or collapse.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a scaffolding accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at KDLM can help you better understand your legal rights and the best course of action. Our firm has negotiated settlements on behalf of clients in excess of $1 billion, including a $25 million settlement for a worker who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a structure collapsed.