As the saying goes, "Accidents will happen" -- and the reality is that construction falls happen more than any other accident. It's tragic that, year after year, workplace falls are near the top OSHA's most reported injuries.
There's no disputing it; being a construction worker is a dangerous job. Whether you are working with heavy machinery or high atop scaffolding, you are always one slip-up away from suffering a serious - and possibly life-threatening - injury.
The men and women who make a living working construction in New York City are well-aware of the dangers and hazards that come with the job. On any given day across the city, a construction worker may be required to descend into a deep trench to lay piping, work atop scaffolding to repair a building's crumbling facade or work in close vicinity to large cranes.
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.
Construction workers are supposed to be protected by rules and regulations designed to keep construction sites safe. Rules require workers to be educated and protected from falls and falling objects that could cause serious injury or death. Despite these safety precautions, however, workers continue to die in construction accidents every year. In one recent New York construction accident, one worker was killed when a retaining wall collapsed on him.
Falls are a leading cause of death among construction workers. That's a major reason why the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires safeguards against falls. These safeguards can protect workers from head injuries, spine injuries and other serious and potentially fatal injuries from falls at construction sites, but only when employers supply them and workers use them. Recently, OSHA proposed $272,720 in fines against four contractors for safety hazards that included failing to provide protection against falls.
Working on a construction job comes with a fair share of hazards and frustration. Whether a person is working on a home project or on a large construction site, the risks of getting injured can be very real. Powerful tools and heights often create dangerous conditions so it is imperative that people are working with safe products free from defects. One of the most common tools that people work with on a jobsite is a ladder. Unfortunately, ladders are also a common cause of serious falls and accidents.
Working in construction can mean that a person will have to work in dangerous conditions or at high heights on temporary structures. Even though it is quite common for construction workers to be in such hazardous environments, they should be able to expect that they will be safe on a site and that proper safety precautions have been taken by their employers and third parties who are also involved in a project. If any of these people neglect this responsibility, a worker can be seriously injured or killed.
People across New York are used to seeing scaffolding around buildings under construction. Whether the construction is to build a new structure or renovate an existing one, scaffolding is often necessary to get the job done. These temporary structures are erected around a building so that workers can safety access different levels and areas.
One of the biggest risks on a New York construction site is falling, and preventing anything from falling is crucial. This could mean properly securing harnesses and scaffolding for people who are working high up in a building, but it could also mean making sure that materials do not go plummeting to the ground as well. When objects fall from high levels or are very heavy, they can cause serious damage to the people below.
$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.