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.
A building in Manhattan's Flatiron district, which is in the process of being converted into condos, was recently the scene of a horrific accident in which a construction worker was critically injured. According to the Department of Buildings, the construction accident occurred when the worker "fell from a ladder as he was installing sheetrock overhead on a ceiling frame."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a roofing company for 12 serious safety violations at a worksite after a worker fell when the roof collapsed. The citation, announced earlier this month, involves $33,600 in proposed penalties.
Construction workers have a risk of falling any time they are suspended in the air, and the falls can happen for many reasons. In one recent accident, a construction worker was injured when a truck fell over while he worked from an aerial bucket attached to it.
A device used to keep firefighters safe could also help prevent injuries and deaths among painters at a jobsite in New York. Workers who are involved in the lengthy process of blasting paint off a steel bridge and repainting the structure will be required to wear personal alarm systems, the New York State Bridge Authority announced recently. The systems could protect the workers in the event of falls from heights or other construction accidents.
A construction company faces $121,000 in federal fines for failing to protect workers from falls on the roof of a shopping center. The company's troubles began when an inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) saw roofers working on a pitched roof without protective systems, even though they were more than 14 feet in the air. Other workers had harnesses that were not properly attached.
$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.