Regarding safety in dangerous sites like construction projects, it’s vital to avoid accidents that can lead to fatalities or serious injuries that, in the long run, affect the injured worker and hurt their entire family. At the same time, their employer might deal with considerable financial losses that might stop the whole project and affect everyone involved in the construction.
It is known that falling from heights on a construction site is very common in America. In 3 years from 2019, there was a peak in 2022 when 11 people died, and 554 other people were injured.
New York City has been working on developing strict laws to protect workers from fall accidents on construction sites. Due to the high demand for housing and plenty of old buildings that need renovations, it is impossible to stop the amount of construction because society needs it.
However, people can perform safety actions to keep a productive workplace safe at the same time.
You may receive compensation for your losses if you or a loved one has suffered severe injuries due to a construction fall site accident. Some laws protect workers.
Please keep reading to understand these accidents, how to avoid them, what laws protect you as a worker, and what steps to take whenever you or a family member is a victim.
New York Construction Site Safety Regulations
New York has implemented labor law 240, mostly known as “Scaffold Law.” It is not only applicable when an accident involves scaffolds, but it describes different devices or scenarios where people can get hurt, and this law protects them.
It is stated that all contractors, owners, and their agents are in charge of giving proper protection to a person employed to perform demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning, erection, or pointing of a building or structure shall furnish or erect.
However, sometimes there is an exception when there are owners of single-family homes or duplexes who contract for but do not direct or control the construction work. In that case, the contractor must provide proper protection to their workers.
Common Causes of Fall Accidents at Construction Sites
The law is there for a reason; if there are consequences, there must be causes. The primary reasons for fall accidents in construction areas are:
Lack of proper fall protection
Any worker performing tasks in an elevated place must have a safety device like a harness to attach themselves to a fixed structure that can bear the worker’s total body weight.
Scaffolding is an essential device in vertical construction. Supervisors must ensure that these devices are correctly built and check if there is not any imperfection in their joints that may cause the collapse of the structure.
Sometimes, if the scaffold is made of wood, this material might need to be in better condition and may lead that the platform can’t stand the weight of the workers.
If a worker needs to use a ladder to reach a high place, they need to ensure there is no liquid. Sometimes oil or other fluid might be on a ladder step causing a slippery hazard.
Supervisors must be qualified to detect these kinds of hazards. Moreover, it is more important to provide instructions on using the safety devices and create a culture where everybody at the site wears the protective devices.
Types of Fall Injuries at Construction Sites
Depending on the height that the person falls or the position of how they land, they can sustain a variety of serious injuries that range from minor injuries to fatalities. Enlisting some types of fall injuries:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Internal Organ Damages
- Psychological Illness
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Back Injuries
Any of these injuries can have long-term consequences for the victim. They may not be able to work due to their injuries. They might develop other illnesses leading to chronic pain and constant medic assistance.
Liability in Construction Site Fall Accidents
As the labor law mentions, owners and contractors must provide safe environments for their employees. So whenever a worker is hurt in a construction fall accident, they have liability for that.
When talking about fall accidents on construction sites is different from other construction site-related injuries. While other accidents can rely on the workers’ comp benefits, shielding the employer from receiving a personal injury lawsuit, a construction site fall accident property owner and the general contractor are responsible whether or not they directly supervised or controlled the work.
However, you need to prove that the property owner or general contractor failed to meet the safety requirements in the law. A personal injury lawyer can assist you in finding out the pieces of evidence that will help your claim while you focus on healing from your injuries.
Role of OSHA in Construction Site Safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of workers at construction sites in New York City. As the primary regulatory body, OSHA is dedicated to establishing and enforcing safety standards to minimize the risk of fall accidents and other hazardous incidents in the construction industry.
There are safety standards that this organization developed. These standards address various aspects, including fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
By clearly outlining safety requirements, OSHA provides a blueprint for employers and workers to follow, promoting a culture of safety consciousness across construction sites in NYC.
OSHA conducts regular inspections at construction sites. These inspections identify potential hazards, evaluate compliance with safety regulations, and offer guidance to employers on rectifying any deficiencies.
Non-compliance with OSHA regulations can lead to severe penalties for construction companies operating in New York City.
The fines imposed by OSHA are based on the severity of the violation and the employer’s history of previous violations. Willful violations, where employers knowingly disregard safety regulations, can result in substantial fines, often reaching thousands of dollars per violation.
Moreover, repeat violations are subject to increased penalties, compelling employers to rectify recurring safety issues promptly. OSHA also considers the company’s size, as smaller businesses may face lower fines for certain violations.
Criminal charges may be pursued in extreme non-compliance cases or situations where violations have caused severe harm or fatalities, leading to more severe consequences such as imprisonment.
Filing a Fall Accident Claim in New York
If you’ve experienced a fall accident at a construction site in NYC, it’s crucial to take prompt and appropriate actions to protect your rights and well-being. The steps you take immediately after the incident can significantly impact your ability to seek compensation for your injuries. Here’s a straightforward guide on what to do after a construction site fall accident, including seeking medical attention and reporting the incident.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Your health and safety should be your top priority. After a fall accident, seek medical attention immediately, even if your injuries appear minor. Some injuries may not manifest immediately; a medical evaluation will document your condition and link it to the accident. This documentation
Report the Incident
Regardless of the accident’s severity, report it to your supervisor or the construction site manager as soon as possible. Ensure that all relevant details, such as the accident’s date, time, location, and nature, are recorded. Request a copy of the incident report for your records, as this can serve as crucial evidence in your claim.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim or a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Workers’ Compensation Claim
In New York, most construction workers are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Suppose you are generally entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim if you sustained injuries in a fall accident while on the job. To do so, inform your employer about treatment and your injuries.
Your employer should then provide you with the necessary claim forms. Once completed, submit the documents to the workers’ compensation board. This process allows you to seek medical treatment and receive benefits for lost wages during your recovery.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
In certain situations, you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, such as a subcontractor or equipment manufacturer, if their negligence contributed to the fall accident.
Unlike workers’ compensation, a personal injury lawsuit allows you to see workers for pain and suffering, which is not typically covered under workers’ compensation. To initiate a personal injury lawsuit, coworkers an experienced construction accident attorney who can assess the circumstances of your case and guide you through the legal process.
The unique circumstance of being a victim of a construction site fall accident makes your employer liable for that, and in such case, you can file the lawsuit directly to them; that is the only way this could happen.
Hiring a Construction Accident Lawyer in New York
These cases can become very confusing and challenging for most people. It is highly recommended to seek legal advice from experienced personal injury lawyers like The Ward Law Group counts on.
With over 25 years of experience assisting people who got hurt in different scenarios. They are qualified to help injured workers in construction site fall accidents. It is crucial to gather the needed evidence and build a solid strategy if a settlement can not be found and you must go to trial.
Contact The Ward Law Group for a free consultation at 855-DOLOR-55, and one lawyer will be right there to answer any question and provide you with high-quality representation.