We all know about how construction sites are dangerous workplaces. Professional workers need years of training to be qualified and perform tasks on a construction project.
Working at heights in a project is common in Yonkers, New York. Since most of the construction projects are buildings of multiple stories. Heavy machinery and temporary elevators, scaffolding, and cranes are required.
Generally, the construction site is full of hazards. There must be inspectors and special people in charge of mitigating the potential causes of accidents. However, as humans, we can make mistakes; others are simply negligent and do not care about safety.
When workers accidentally fall from heights, it is fatal depending on how many feet above ground they are. Typically, falling from 30 feet above ground is a fatality. Nevertheless, a lower height can also be fatal if the person falls directly over their head or the wrong surface.
Construction site falls are a real danger, and if you or a loved one suffered one of these accidents, you must know that there are laws that protect workers and that you may be entitled to ask for compensation for your damages.
Contact a personal injury lawyer from The Ward Law Group to study your case and tell you your options to recover from your injuries.
New York Construction Site Safety Regulations
Construction sites in New York are subject to stringent safety regulations and guidelines designed to safeguard the well-being of workers and minimize the risk of fall accidents.
These regulations, enforced by agencies such as the New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), play a pivotal role in maintaining a safe work environment. Here's an overview of crucial safety regulations and how they aim to prevent fall accidents:
1. Scaffold and Fall Protection Standards
OSHA Standards: OSHA sets specific standards for scaffolding and fall protection systems. This includes guidelines for constructing, using, and maintaining scaffolds, guardrails, and personal fall arrest systems.
The NYSDOL, under New York State Labor Law Section 240 (the "Scaffold Law"), imposes strict liability on property owners and contractors for gravity-related accidents, including falls. This encourages property owners and contractors to provide proper scaffolding and fall protection equipment.
2. Training and Education
OSHA mandates that workers receive appropriate training on fall hazards and the correct use of fall protection equipment. Employers are responsible for ensuring employees are trained to identify and mitigate fall risks.
Construction sites in New York often require site-specific training to address unique hazards. This ensures workers are well-prepared to handle potential fall risks on a job site.
3. Regular Inspections and Maintenance
The NYSDOL conducts inspections to ensure compliance with safety regulations. This includes inspecting scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment for safety and stability.
Construction site operators must promptly address any identified safety hazards or equipment defects. Regular maintenance and repairs are crucial to preventing falls due to equipment failure.
4. Safety Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Workers must use appropriate PPE, such as harnesses, safety helmets, and non-slip footwear, to mitigate fall risks. Employers are responsible for providing and maintaining PPE.
Guardrails and safety netting must be installed on elevated work platforms to provide additional protection against falls.
5. Fall Hazard Assessment
Employers must conduct a site-specific hazard assessment to identify potential fall hazards and implement measures to eliminate or reduce them.
Workers must follow safe work practices, including proper ladder usage, secure scaffold assembly, and regular equipment inspections.
Employers are mandated to maintain records of safety training, inspections, and incident reports. This documentation helps ensure accountability and compliance with safety regulations.
Common Causes of Fall Accidents at Construction Sites
Construction sites are dynamic environments where workers face a heightened risk of fall accidents. Identifying and mitigating the factors contributing to these accidents is paramount for ensuring the safety of workers.
One prevalent cause of fall accidents is the failure to use personal fall protection equipment, such as safety harnesses and lanyards, especially when working at heights. Workers must be trained to wear and use this equipment properly.
Inadequate or missing guardrails on elevated platforms can expose workers to fall hazards. Installing and maintaining barriers is essential for preventing accidents. General contractors and property owners have a duty of care to install such implements to mitigate accidents.
Scaffold-related accidents often occur due to incorrect assembly. To prevent collapses and falls, Scaffold components must be erected and secured according to safety standards.
If the material is unsuitable or the scaffold is not assembled correctly it can generate an unstable surface that can cause someone to fall from it. Overcrowding scaffolds or working on narrow platforms can increase the risk of falls.
A supervisor should always ensure that workers use the scaffold properly and when it’s time to do each task—managing the times when multiple workers perform over it.
Roof work, especially in construction, can be hazardous without proper edge protection. Roofers and other construction workers should have guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems.
Rooftop surfaces can become slippery due to weather conditions or debris. Proper traction and fall prevention measures are necessary to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Besides the hazard of falling, other hazards can hurt other people, especially those working on a ground level. If they get hit by a falling object, such as a tool or debris from the worker's height, they can get into a serious accident.
Types of Fall Injuries at Construction Sites
Fall accidents at construction sites can lead to a wide range of injuries, varying in severity and impacting the victim's well-being.
It is crucial to understand these potential injuries to emphasize the importance of preventive measures and ensure that victims receive the appropriate medical care and legal support they need.
1. Fractures and Broken Bones
Some of the most common injuries resulting from fall accidents are fractures and broken bones. These injuries can range from minor fractures to more severe breaks, such as compound fractures where the bone pierces through the skin. Fractures can lead to significant pain and mobility limitations and require surgical intervention for proper healing.
2. Head Injuries and Trauma
Head injuries are a severe concern in fall accidents, especially if the victim's head touches a hard surface or object during the fall. This can result in concussions, contusions, or even more severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Even seemingly minor head trauma can lead to cognitive impairment, memory problems, and changes in behavior.
3. Spinal Cord Injuries
Fall accidents can result in severe spinal cord injuries, which can have life-altering consequences. Depending on the location and extent of the injury, victims may face paralysis, loss of sensation, or impaired motor function. Rehabilitation and ongoing care are often necessary for those affected by spinal cord injuries.
4. Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries involve damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These injuries may not always be immediately apparent and can manifest over time, causing chronic pain and mobility issues. Sprains, strains, and contusions fall under this category, and their impact on a victim's ability to work and lead an everyday life can be significant.
5. Internal Injuries
Fall accidents can sometimes lead to internal injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding. These injuries may not be immediately visible, highlighting the importance of seeking immediate medical attention after a fall accident, even if there are no apparent external injuries.
6. Psychological Trauma
Beyond physical injuries, fall accidents can leave lasting emotional and psychological scars. Victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression, impacting their overall quality of life and ability to return to work.
Liability in Construction Site Fall Accidents
Determining liability in a construction site fall accident is challenging because many people and entities might have a certain percentage of fault.
A lawyer's duty in a fall accident on a construction site case is to run a thorough investigation to find out how much responsibility each potential party has.
Remember that you, as a construction worker, are protected by the New York 240 Labor Law, which says that construction site owners and contractors are required to take reasonable safety measures to protect workers at height.
The investigation must confirm if these parties did what they were supposed to do by law. If, by any chance, we find proof that they didn’t comply with it, you can get compensation through them.
Another option you have, which should be the first way to go, is the worker’s comp insurance policy.
As an injured worker, you can file a claim by notifying them about your accident. You should receive medical assistance, a percentage of your monthly wages while recovering.
Typically, this insurance would be enough when your injuries are not severe. However, we’ve seen that serious injuries may need more funds to pay for. An injured worker is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit to pursue extra compensation if a third party is at fault in their accident.
By proving that there was negligence by a contractor or a manufacturer of any tool or safety gadget, you can ask for extra compensation to cover your damages. If you suffer consequences that will permanently affect your life, you can also include them.
Role of OSHA in Construction Site Safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of workers at construction sites in Yonkers and across New York. OSHA is a federal agency established to enforce safety and health standards in workplaces, including those in the construction industry. Its primary mission is to reduce workplace hazards and protect workers from associated occupational risks.
Setting and Enforcing Safety Standards
One of OSHA's primary functions is establishing and enforcing safety standards for various industries, including construction. These standards cover many areas, including fall protection, scaffolding, electrical safety, and more. By setting clear guidelines, OSHA helps ensure that employers provide a safe work environment for their employees.
Inspecting and Investigating Workplaces
OSHA conducts routine inspections and responds to complaints or reports of unsafe working conditions. Construction sites are subject to these inspections, during which OSHA representatives assess compliance with safety regulations. They evaluate fall protection measures, scaffolding stability, proper equipment usage, and adherence to OSHA standards.
Providing Training and Educational Resources
OSHA offers employers and workers training programs and educational resources to promote a safety culture. These programs cover fall prevention, hazard identification, and safe work practices. By enhancing awareness and knowledge, OSHA helps reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries on construction sites.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Penalties for non-compliance with OSHA regulations can vary depending on the severity of the violation. Here are the typical penalties that may be imposed:
- Monetary fines
- Civil penalties
- Willful violation penalties
- Repeat violation penalties
- Criminal charges
- Injunctions and Stop-Work Orders
- Enhanced Reporting Requirements
- Loss of Contracts or Licenses
It's important to note that OSHA penalties are intended to penalize non-compliance and incentivize employers to prioritize worker safety.
Lawyer For Construction Site Fall Accidents
The Ward Law Group is proud to serve the Hispanic community in Yonkers. With over 12 years of existence, we have lawyers representing the best interests of thousands of victims. We understand the pain and the overwhelming feeling of dealing with legal matters while trying to recover from your injuries.
We provide high-level representation so you can receive the compensation you deserve. We are real experts in personal injury and labor laws. Relying on our experience, you will see how we fight tirelessly to bring justice to you.
Obtain a straightforward explanation of your case and how we will attempt to win considerable compensation to pay for all your damages. Call us now at 855-DOLOR-55 for a free consultation.