In a space destined for a construction project, there are all kinds of materials, particular areas, stairs that lead from one side to another, surfaces without floor, deep excavations, electrical circuits, dust that rises through the air, flammable materials, giant machines maneuvering tons of waste, among other elements that could be risky for someone inexperienced or not very familiar with this type of contexts.
Typically, construction workers who have been in the industry for many years are not intimidated by any of the scenarios described in the previous paragraph. They are already used to them.
It is expected to move among a series of sharp objects and machines that generate combustion. It is not news to those who know how they work to erect a skyscraper or a new building in huge cities like New York.
Experienced construction workers assemble and disassemble structures, cut holes in walls in seconds, remove and place windows, efficiently remove clearing, climb walls, and carved surfaces, and lift on cranes to put bolts in the most impassive and high places.
In fact, you need to be in good physical shape to work in this field. It could even be considered a sort of outdoor gymnasium, where there is always something to carry, a weight to support, or something to solve.
However, there is something special about falls in these types of locations that can happen to even the most experienced worker. A few weeks ago, a man came into our office at 535 5th Ave Suite 910 in New York City who said he had been working for the past 15 years on various construction projects and had fallen about ten times since he started.
The last of the falls had been the most complicated, and it had not been entirely his responsibility. Because, by a somewhat negligent order, it was decided to carry out activities on a day when the surface was covered with snow.
The man was about to finish his activities when it was already dark and went to a warehouse to leave the drill he had been using to cut wood when he slipped abruptly after catching his boots on a block of ice that had formed at the entrance to the warehouse.
After falling to the ground, he felt he could not move and remained unconscious for nearly 20 minutes when he regained his senses and could call emergency to come to his aid.
Now, with respect to this case, we are determining with our professionals the best legal strategy to determine legal responsibilities, in addition to an exhaustive investigation as to why operations were authorized that day if the weather conditions did not safeguard the integrity of any of the project workers. This is a question that has yet to be resolved, although it could be interpreted as an omission that resulted in a negligent act.
The worker is recovering from the events, although he presented an injury in the head area, which is extremely delicate, and requires several weeks of evaluation to determine if this could generate any long-term consequences or even if he requires any surgical intervention, which makes the clinical picture even more delicate, and would imply a compensation according to the money and time invested during the whole process.
This type of story is not easy to assimilate. Because they mean that there is not much more to be done in prevention since the events have already occurred and the damage has already been caused. However, our 30 years of experience dealing with cases that are often borderline situations, even life-threatening, or with lifelong consequences, have helped us to understand what approach and attitude to have to overcome these slips and find the useful and positive sense to such an eventuality.
You may ask: But what's so positive about hitting your head after sliding on a block of ice inside a construction project? Is it like those strange cases of people who hit their heads and develop some extraordinary ability? How great it would be if we all developed extraordinary ability as a result of blows like these. But not. What is positive for us is the resilience that people develop after dealing with these events.
A positive learning from a hard situation. Start over and turn your life around.
Many of those affected learn to see life differently. They develop skills such as patience, they question whether they should continue working in that field, and they consider turning their lives around. Additionally, time at home recovering is sometimes also an opportunity to be closer to your family or take the space to learn a skill remotely. If we start looking for those small positive possibilities that open up after a negative event, we will surely find several. At our firm, we have witnessed positive changes as a result of events that are difficult to process.
Although it won't be easy, you will have to have the emotional support to overcome it. With our firm on your side, you will have the necessary support to cross the bridge, to leave behind the events that occurred, and find a new horizon for your days. You will also find the legal advice necessary for the compensation you deserve. Your rights will be recognized.
Contact us if you consider that you identify with some of the characteristics described about this type of event. We will schedule a free evaluation for your case, and we will gladly receive all your questions.
Join us to learn a little more about fall accidents in construction projects.
Common Causes of Fall Accidents at Construction Sites:
In the example we gave, about the client who visited us 3 weeks ago in our offices in New York, it was a fall due to the ground being frozen due to low temperatures when the event occurred. This person suffered this accident last winter but decided not to contact an attorney until months later.
Normally, we do not recommend allowing so much time to pass, although when the case meets certain characteristics, it is not so much the time that is important but rather the factual facts that may show that some type of negligence has been suffered.
However, falls from frozen surfaces are not the only cause. The causes themselves can be of various kinds, from a worker who did not rest well the night before to an electrical storm or the consumption of a prescription drug in excess or by mistake.
The most common causes that we have been able to group based on our experience in recent years are the following:
• Unprotected Edges: In construction, it's essential to have guardrails or protective barriers along open edges to prevent accidental falls. Failure to install these safety measures can result in tragic accidents.
• Improper Scaffolding Setup: Scaffolding must be assembled correctly to ensure stability and safety for workers. An inadequate assembly or unstable structure can lead to falls from heights.
• Lack of Fall Protection Equipment: Fall protection equipment like harnesses, lanyards, and lifelines is crucial when working at heights. Not providing or using this equipment increases the risk of falling.
• Slippery or Wet Surfaces: Weather conditions, such as rain or snow, can make surfaces slippery. Additionally, spilled materials can create hazards, especially when working on elevated platforms.
• Unsecured Ladders: Ladders should be placed securely and used with caution. An unsecured ladder can easily tip over, causing workers to fall.
• Debris and Material Accumulation: Construction sites are often cluttered with tools, equipment, and debris. Failure to maintain an organized workspace can lead to tripping hazards.
• Inadequate Training: Proper training on fall prevention measures and safe work practices is essential. Workers not adequately trained may unknowingly engage in risky behaviors.
• Poor Housekeeping: A clean and organized workspace is essential for minimizing tripping hazards. Neglecting housekeeping duties can lead to accidents.
• Unstable Structures: Any structural instability in platforms, walkways, or scaffolding poses significant dangers. Regular inspections and maintenance are critical.
• Unprotected Skylights: Open or unguarded skylights can be deceiving and dangerous. Workers walking nearby should be aware of these potential hazards.
• Failure to Use Safety Nets: Safety nets can catch falling workers and prevent severe injuries. The omission of safety nets increases the risk of harm.
• Unmarked Hazardous Areas: Warning signs and markings are crucial for indicating hazardous zones. Workers should be aware of potential dangers in the vicinity.
• Overloading Platforms: Elevated platforms or scaffolding have weight limits that must not be exceeded. Overloading can cause structural failure and falls.
• Unsafe Work Practices: Ignoring safety procedures and using tools improperly can lead to accidents. Safe work practices must always be followed.
• Lack of Fall Risk Assessment: Conducting a thorough fall risk assessment before starting work at heights is essential. This assessment helps identify and mitigate potential fall hazards.
These detailed explanations provide a comprehensive understanding of the various factors that contribute to fall accidents at construction sites, emphasizing the need for comprehensive safety protocols and ongoing training.
Types of Fall Injuries at Construction Sites
Can you imagine falling from a high height while working on one of these projects? What do you think could be generated from a situation this extreme? Most likely, a large fall will end up on the door of the person who suffers it. Although, sometimes, we have received cases of people who lived to tell the tale, although not completely unharmed, many of them with injuries and fractures that are difficult to manage.
There are few who have emerged unscathed from these types of falls. Although not all of them are falls from great heights, as we saw in the case of slipping on frozen ground, they can be trips that occur in seconds.
The injuries that accompany these accidents occupy long lists in hospitals. Sometimes it is a pack of injuries that occur. Other specific injuries. Being a lawyer in the accident field forces you to exchange information with professionals in the medical sector constantly.
This way, we stay updated on the clinical conditions, the possible compensation that each injury deserves, and the treatment alternatives that our clients can consider.
Reviewing our files, we have identified the following most common injuries resulting from these accidental events:
• Head Injuries: Falls can lead to head injuries, including concussions, skull fractures, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
• Spinal Cord Injuries: Falls from heights can result in spinal cord injuries, leading to paralysis or other long-term disabilities.
• Fractured Bones: Falls often result in broken bones, such as arms, legs, hips, or wrists.
• Back Injuries: Falls can cause severe back injuries, including herniated discs or spinal fractures.
• Neck Injuries: The impact from a fall can lead to neck injuries, affecting the cervical spine.
• Internal Injuries: Falls may cause internal injuries, like organ damage or internal bleeding.
• Soft Tissue Injuries: Sprains, strains, and contusions are common soft tissue injuries due to falls.
• Abrasions: Skin abrasions, cuts, and scrapes are prevalent when workers fall onto rough surfaces.
• Bruises: Impact injuries often result in bruises, indicating underlying tissue damage.
• Dislocations: Falls can cause joint dislocations, such as shoulders or hips.
• Amputations: Severe falls can lead to limb amputations, requiring immediate medical attention.
• Crush Injuries: Workers may get trapped or pinned in the fall, causing crush injuries.
• Lacerations: Sharp objects or debris on the construction site can lead to deep lacerations.
• Sprained Ankles: Falls can result in ankle sprains, which may take time to heal.
• Concussions: Head injuries can lead to concussions, which may have lasting effects on cognitive function.
• Puncture Wounds: Workers may fall onto objects that puncture the skin, causing puncture wounds.
• Nerve Damage: Falls can damage nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation.
• Facial Injuries: Facial injuries, including fractures, are common when workers fall.
• Psychological Trauma: Beyond physical injuries, falls can cause psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
• Fatalities: In severe cases, falls can result in fatalities, leaving families devastated.
Contact The Ward Law and know which is the best legal way for your case! Schedule a free case evaluation with us.
Don't walk alone through complex terrain, such as the legal field. Our company will streamline your process. Remember, though, you are never entirely alone. You are always being guided by something greater. This is what the poetry of Psalm 23 says: Even though I walk through the darkest valley. I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.