New Jersey Scaffold Accident Attorney
Construction is a booming career, as no matter what city you travel to, you will always find buildings being built and being reconstructed. However, construction is also one of the most dangerous industries that there is, with many accidents taking place every year.
Many of these accidents stem from dangerous work conditions and faulty equipment, ladders, and more. However, some of these construction accidents also revolve around scaffolding. In fact, an estimated 2.3 million construction workers use scaffolds in their work. With safer scaffolding, 4,500 injuries and dozens of deaths could be prevented each year. It would also recover an outstanding $90 million in lost productivity!
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) actually reported 54 fatalities in 2009 from scaffolds alone. 72% of these injuries attributed the accident to the planking or support giving away, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. Many different scaffolds are used in the construction industry. In fact, there are three different types:
- Supported: These scaffolds consist of one or more platforms that are supported by rigid, load-bearing members like poles, frames, and legs.
- Suspended: These consist of one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid overhead support.
- Other: These are sometimes thought of as vehicles or machinery, including man lifts and personnel hoists.
New York Scaffold Law
In New York, there is an issue known as the “scaffold law” since construction accidents are so prevalent. The Scaffold Law, also known as NYS Labor Law sections 240/241, impose something known as “absolute liability” for elevation-related injuries on contractors and property owners. This means that liability will fall on them in full if these injuries happen in the workplace. The contributing fault of an injured worker, such as failure to use equipment, will never be used in court.
Basically, this means that a settlement is virtually guaranteed. You may not know it, but more than half of the most expensive New York settlements in 2012 from construction accidents were from the Scaffold Law. The number of these lawsuits has increased by 500% since 1990. Due to this law, the cost of insuring construction projects is as much as 10 times higher than other states! This means that construction costs are rising and fewer workers are being hired. This is why it is of utmost important that construction laws are being followed when it comes to safety matters.
To show you how prevalent scaffolding incidents are, take an example straight from New York itself. In March 2014, a construction worker fell to his death from scaffolding outside the Dream Hotel in New York in the afternoon. He was working on the building and using a supported scaffold at the time; however, he continued to fall about 80 feet trough an area that was unprotected due to removal of the planks. Many people working nearby in buildings saw the man fall to his death and realized how truly horrible these accidents can be firsthand.
Due to the accident, construction was halted on the project, which is something that happens when safety becomes an issue. When construction halts, money is lost and construction companies come under scrutiny. Loved ones lose their family members due to unforeseen accidents. Many people took concern over this particular incident and realized that proper precautions may not have been taken. Witnesses commented on the fact that too many construction workers were in these high conditions without harnesses or other equipment to help them in case they lost their footing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration takes accidents in construction very seriously and also works to prevent them from happening in the first place. The OSHA covers very specific topics when it comes to keeping workers safe, such as putting rules in place for fall protection or fall arrest systems – this involves employees being protected from falls when they are 10 feet above by having guardrails or a fall arrest system in place. There are also standards that ensure that employers are training their employees who work on scaffolds and showing them the hazards they may endure and how to prevent them.
Of course, sometimes it starts with the employee as well. For instance, competent workers are required for scaffolding projects in the first place because they have been trained for these matters. They are capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions. These workers will be able to inspect the scaffolds they are working on for visible defects before they take their shift. They also have to be able to demonstrate their ability to solve or resolve problems related to the work needed on scaffolds. Employees must be made aware of restrictions, such as the fact that they are prohibited from working on scaffolds covered with snow, ice, or other slippery materials, except to remove those substances mentioned.
The design of scaffolds must be able to support workers. Each scaffold and its components must support without failure. They must hold at least four times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it. The scaffolds should also be designed by those most qualified to meet these standards to assure the utmost of safety.
Fall Protection Requirements
Fall protection is important due to the fact that many accidents arising from scaffolding include falls from very far distances, which can result in the most serious injuries or even death. Fall protection includes guardrail systems and personal fall arrest systems. Personal fall arrest systems include things like harnesses, components of the harness and belt, and more. Employers must provide fall protection to all employees who work on a scaffold more than 10 feet above a lower level.
Because of the complexity of scaffolding accidents and all the laws involved, you should always retain a lawyer. The same can be said for any accidents that stem from construction, as they can get serious very quickly. A personal injury attorney with construction experience will be able to help you receive compensation for current and future medical care, lost wages, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and more. In New York, scaffolding injuries are taken very seriously due to the fact that they can most certainly be prevented if employers and employees alike consider the risks and precautions.
If you need help with a case, call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today for more information. You can contact them at (201) 585-9111 for all of your New York construction needs and to have all questions answered in a timely manner! We will work with you to help you receive the compensation you deserve and understand your unique situation.