Scaffolding accidents are unfortunately common. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 4,500 workers suffer serious injuries on scaffolds, while another 60 workers ultimately die. BLS estimates that 30% of all workplace deaths are scaffold related.
The construction industry is especially vulnerable to these tragedies since 65% of all projects use scaffolds. While there are regulations designed to protect construction workers, best practices can fall on deaf ears. Keep reading to learn about scaffold accidents and what to do after such an accident occurs.
New York’s Labor Law §240
New York’s Labor Law §240, also known as the scaffolding law, protects construction workers who sustain serious injuries in scaffold-related accidents. The statute establishes that companies and contractors are responsible for their workers’ well-being from the moment scaffolds go up until workers disassemble them. If any scaffold accident happens during this time, the company can be held liable.
New York’s Labor Law §240 provides a way for workers to receive compensation for their scaffolding injuries. Constructions sites can be hazardous, even with the proper safety precautions in place. The statute even outlines several safety guidelines, so that construction companies and contractors can minimize the chances of personal injuries.
New York Scaffold Safety
In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began as part of the Occupation and Safety and Health Act. The government agency ensures that employees have safe and healthy work environments. OSHA enforces various standards and offers education, training, and outreach to construction companies.
OSHA has 73 pages of regulations for scaffolds alone. For instance, the guidelines stipulate that scaffolds must have full planks or decks and be level during use. Scaffolds must also hold at least four times their maximum intended weight.
Construction sites must comply with these rules, even if compliance slows down the job. OSHA fines companies for lack of compliance, including Mondi Construction in 2011 and Yonkers Construction Co. in 2012. It also fined Ellicott Development Co. for not placing guardrails on scaffolding, which caused two workers to fall more than 20 feet.
Scaffolding accidents happen despite good intentions. Construction companies can dramatically reduce the chance of scaffolding accidents, though, by exercising caution.
Some ways to mitigate liability include:
- Properly training construction workers
- Following OSHA regulations
- Correctly assembling, moving, and dissembling the scaffolding
- Using appropriate safety gear and fall protection
- Securing tools and materials during construction
- Routinely inspecting the scaffolding for wear and tear
- Replacing old or broken parts
While safety regulations can delay construction, they exist for a reason. Employers should never let workers ignore rules during scaffolding construction to save time or money.
If you sustained an injury on the job because your employer did not enforce safety procedures, schedule your free consultation with Halperin & Halperin, P.C. immediately.
Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
At Halperin & Halperin, P.C., we have seen it all. Our team of personal injury attorneys has worked with construction workers hit by falling objects and who fell off their scaffold because of inadequate guardrails.
The most common causes of scaffolding accidents fall into four categories:
- Falling objects
- “Catch between”
According to OSHA, falling from scaffolding constituted up 36% of construction injuries in 2012. Sometimes workers make an honest mistake but do not have proper guardrails or protection. If a worker makes a wrong move on a scaffold without proper protection, they can sustain serious injuries.
Falls from scaffolds are approximately four times as common as falling objects hurting workers. These latter injuries typically happen when employees do not have proper training or equipment. A scaffold accident can also occur if workers do not secure their tools properly.
Electrocutions make up 9% of scaffold accidents. Electrocution may happen when employees are not aware of energized power lines or exposed electrical wires. If a worker’s scaffold strikes an overhead power line, it can electrocute them.
Sometimes workers get caught between an immovable object, like a wall, and a piece of heavy machinery. These situations are rare but can happen when the scaffolding or other equipment collapses or caves in. These accidents are usually the result of poor on-site safety enforcement.
Common Injuries from Scaffold Accidents
Scaffolding injuries come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes workers fall from several stories and walk away with only scrapes and bruises. That said, some scaffolding accidents can be fatal. These incidents kill dozens of men and women across the country each year.
Most people break bones in scaffolding accidents due to the steep drop. The average adult that falls from 20 feet hits the ground at nearly 25 mph, more than enough force to dislocate a joint or snap a bone in half.
Some of the other common scaffolding injuries include:
- Brain trauma
- Internal bleeding
- Severe lacerations
- Organ damage
Scaffolding injuries may only be the start of your problems. If you break your leg, the odds are you will not return to work. The loss of income can put an emotional and financial strain on you and your family. You also may have a pile of medical bills from your rehabilitation, hospitalization, X-rays, MRIs, and long-term nursing care.
Halperin & Halperin, P.C., makes sure your employer does not saddle you with debt. Our team of personal injury attorneys works with you to build a strong and persuasive case. We have the knowledge and experience to earn you the appropriate damages for your scaffolding accident, whether you settle or go to trial.
Contact Halperin & Halperin, P.C.
A single scaffold accident can have life-altering ramifications. A broken rail or inadvertent slip can leave you with serious injuries that keep you from providing for your family or enjoying your hobbies. If you find yourself severely hurt or unable to work because of a scaffold accident, Halperin & Halperin, P.C. can help.
Call us at (212) 935-2600 or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today. During the free consultation, our personal injury attorneys will review your case’s merits and help you determine the best course of action.