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The concerning severity of elevator-related construction injuries

Three construction workers are lucky to be alive after a four-story fall down an elevator shaft. The men were on a site in Brooklyn that was undergoing renovations, and had been on a working platform in the shaft.

Suddenly, that platform gave out. The three workers plunged four stories, ultimately landing in the basement. The workers reportedly suffered fractures, including one with a broken leg. While all were expected to recover, the incident shines a spotlight on the particular dangers of elevator-related work.

The severity of elevator-related incidents

Elevator shafts are commonplace on construction sites in New York City. Unfortunately, they often represent a real danger to workers.

A 2018 report from the Center for Construction Research and Training noted a general rise in elevator-related fatalities in recent years. There were about 24 such deaths in the construction industry each year from 2011-16. Just over half of those were caused by a fall to a lower level, while about 25% were the result of being caught in or compressed by an object or piece of equipment.

It’s not just about deaths, however.

During that same period, there were 2,410 elevator-related injuries to construction workers. They were most often caused by being caught in or compressed by something (25.3%) or falls to a lower level (23.7%).

The most frequently recorded injuries were:

  • A traumatic injury or disorder – 27%
  • Bruises or contusions – 22%
  • Fractures – 19.1%
  • Sprains, strains, tears – 18.7%
  • Cuts or lacerations – 2.5%
  • Multiple traumatic injuries or disorders – 2.5%
  • Concussion – 2.1%

These injuries often have a long-term impact. Among all construction workers who suffered an elevator-related injury, nearly half required at least 31 days away from work.

Many of these incidents are preventable

What these figures underscore is the necessity of safety precautions. As the report mentions, nearly all of these fatalities and injuries could have been prevented if the proper safety equipment, practices and training had been in place.

Workers who are hurt on the job should consider contacting an experienced construction accident attorney to discuss their options.

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