It seems like every year there is another group that tries to convince lawmakers to change, or even eliminate, New York's Scaffold Law - and this year is no different. Sadly, these proposed changes are rarely to the benefit of construction workers, the very people this law is supposed to protect.
In this blog, we frequently discuss the many dangers that construction workers in New York City face on a daily basis. Among the most serious and prevalent dangers posed to construction workers are those associated with working atop scaffolding structures. Due to the fact that the vast majority of New York City's buildings are above two stories tall, scaffolding is frequently used by construction crews to carryout projects that require demolition, repair, erection, painting and cleaning.
The United States Department of Labor is clear on its Occupational Safety and Health Administration website: "Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry." Some New York City families of deceased construction workers know this truth all too well.
Big business interests have for years tried to undermine the federal government's Occupational Health and Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. A local target by construction companies is New York's Scaffold Law. The goal is always the same, the opponents of safety regulations say: cut government red tape and save the taxpayers money.
They are normally hairdressers, day laborers, short-order cooks and musicians. But according to recently filed criminal charges, the people were hired by two New York City companies to pretend to be licensed construction site safety managers. The cooks, stylists and rockers allegedly forged signatures of real safety managers to make it appear as if sites had passed inspections.
Two New York City construction workers found themselves dangling in their safety harnesses 12 stories in the air late last week. Witnesses stood and watched, hoping that the man would not plunge from the collapsed scaffolding at 57th Street and Lexington Avenue in Midtown.
A construction worker fell approximately 80 feet to his death at a Midtown hotel on April 2. The accident occurred at approximately 2:10 p.m. when the worker fell from scaffolding at 210 West 55th Street close to Broadway.
On Dec. 7, 2007, two brothers were cleaning the windows of a Manhattan high rise when their scaffold broke. One brother died. The other brother survived a 47-story plunge to the ground in the scaffold. He survived, despite serious injuries. Doctors at the time were surprised that the man survived the scaffold accident. But he survived, and recovered well enough that he has even completed a 5K walk for charity.
Working on scaffolds places construction employees high above the ground and at risk of injuries and death from falls. Because of this danger, New York lawmakers have enacted special legal protections for people who work on scaffolding. But contractors, insurers and property owners have long said the law is unfair, and they are now waging a new campaign against the law.
Could proper safety training have prevented a construction worker from dying in a fall at a New York University construction site? The 56-year-old man working for a construction company on a job site for façade repairs at a New York University building. He fell 70 feet onto the roof of a nearby building on a recent morning and died at Bellevue Hospital.
$2.1 million settlement
for 33-year old electrician who fell from ladder while attempting to fit heavy cable into crown box when cable sprung back and struck him, causing him to suffer left shoulder injury with impingement.
$1.6 million settlement
for 38-year old electrician who slipped and fell on debris on stairway with resulting cervical herniated disc and aggravation of pre-existing arthritic changes.
$2.55 million settlement
for 42-year old electrician who fell into an uncovered, unprotected hole and suffered a severe low back injury with herniated disc(s) that required surgery at L4-5 and L5-S1 levels.
$1.75 million settlement
for 26-year old construction worker who fell through opening in roof and fractured his wrist, requiring surgery with open reduction and internal fixation, external fixation device, and eventual fusion.
$2.5 million settlement
for 38-year old female electrician (with history of prior neck injury) who tripped on uneven Masonite protective floor covering, and suffered neck injury with herniated discs requiring cervical fusion.
$1.2 million settlement
during trial for 40-year old sheet metal worker who was struck in the neck and shoulder by an air conditioning unit and suffered herniated cervical discs and cervical radiculopathy.