To outside observers, construction sites may look like an unmanageable
mess filled with numerous hazards. While the work site may look disorganized,
the construction workers know what is going on, and while hazards are
present, the risks of injury can be mitigated under proper worksite management
construction site accidents.
personal injury attorneys know that state and federal laws, such as the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (hereinafter “OSHA”) laws and regulations require property
owners, contractors, and subcontractors to maintain a safe worksite. Even
common law rules dictate how worksites should be kept free from hazards
that cause unreasonable and foreseeable harm. Know now that negligently
maintained construction sites give rise to liability. If the property
owners, contractors, subcontractors, etc. owed you a duty to keep the
worksite safe, and they breached that duty, then you are entitled to compensation
if the breach was what proximately caused your injuries.
Fatal Construction Accidents in New York
Just last week, the city of New York shutdown construction on the Dream
Hotel after a
construction worker fell from scaffolding and died. While the employee’s death appeared to be accidental, it was most
likely preventable and simply should not have happened if the New York
Labor Laws were properly followed. Reports are showing that planks were
removed from the scaffolding which may have left the area unprotected.
The New York City Department of Buildings has indicated that the contractor
may have failed to keep persons and property safe at the location. Moreover,
OSHA is conducting additional investigations.
As with any worksite injury, investigators will look to see what safety
precautions were implemented; whether they conformed with laws and industry
standards; whether or not safety equipment was present and adequate; they
will see if construction workers used the safety equipment, among other
things. Even if employees had safety equipment but did not use it, the
worker may still be able to receive compensation for damages sustained
in the accident.
The Impact of OSHA
OSHA remains on the forefront of protecting construction workers from preventable
injuries. In fact, just last month OSHA announced that a stand-down (a
break in the workday to discuss how to prevent work site falls) will take
place from June 2 through June 6 in an effort to raise awareness of construction
site falls and the injuries occurring there from.
This is just one part of OSHA’s agenda to save lives and prevent
falls. OSHA has a three pronged strategy to keep workers safe with three
steps: plan, provide, and train. That is, with adequate job planning,
proper equipment, and competent training worksite falls may be prevented.
Scaffolding Safety Precautions
There are many ways to prevent falls at
construction sites. While some occur on only a single level, others involve falls from higher
elevations to lower elevations. For example, workers can and should be
provided with full body harnesses, lifelines, anchorage points, or the
like when working on roofs and scaffolding. Workers should have a ‘tie-off’
to anchorage points.
Equipment and proper training prevents falls. Construction workers should
also be given access to
OSHA safety trainings, such as educational videos and accounts from other workers who have been
injured. Safety signs should be posted at the work site. And of course,
these materials should be available in languages in addition to English.
In addition to equipment and training, roofing and
scaffolding workers may be assisted by a safety monitor who is a worker properly trained
and not given other duties that would interfere with the monitoring of
roofing workers. In short, additional safety staffing may be appropriate.
We recently wrote about
scaffold law in our blog—click here to learn more!
Every part of the construction process, and each instrumentality used therein
gives rise to safety concerns and potential hazards. Even though ladders
are a common tool used both in residential and commercial uses, they still
carry risks if not used properly, if not used in areas that are safe,
and if the persons using them have not been trained. Of course, negligence
can still arise even though the ladder was used properly by a trained
You should also know that ladders are not always appropriate to use, even
if the height one needs to reach is not relatively high. If the worker
is going to be elevated for a long period of time, if heavy objects will
be hoisted, and/or if the worker must move side to side rather that up
or down, a ladder might not be appropriate. Therefore, the employer should
not have the worker use a ladder for the task.