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What Goes Up Must Come Down – New York Scaffolding Law and Construction Site Injuries
New Yorkers accept a certain degree of risk by living in one of the United States’ busiest cities. New York is a city that seems to always be under construction, and workplace accidents, falls, and scaffolding collapses are just a part of daily life. Sound work and construction practices significantly reduce fall and collapse hazards, but some degree of risk will always be present on the worksite. The most recent data available reports that New York City construction sites reported 153 workplace accidents, 164 job site injuries, and a construction-related fatality by April 2020. The leading causes of workplace accidents and injuries included scaffolding collapses, shoring failures, falling objects, and a lack of employer-issued fall protection.
OSHA guidelines provide contractors, property owners, and construction management companies reasonable measures to improve workplace safety. These steps reduce fall and gravity-related injuries when workers access closed plumbing systems, work on electrical junction boxes, lay sheetrock or drywall, or perform other dangerous elevated work. Fall risks can be further reduced through the use of adequately constructed scaffolding. Scaffolding used with OSHA approved harnesses protects people walking below active job sites from falling objects when correctly used. Evidence aside, contractors and property owners regularly fail to abide by state law and sound practices, and New Yorkers suffer injuries as a consequence.
Unsafe scaffolding is one of the ten most frequently cited OSHA violations in the United States. The other fall-related OSHA violations that lead the list include failure to use or issue adequate fall protection, use of unsafe ladders, and the absence of industry-standard fall protection training. When job site accidents and fall injuries occur, the results are often tragic. Lifelong injuries can disrupt career plans, lead to chronic pain, and significant medical bills.
If you or a loved one were injured while working on or visiting a construction site, contact [Attorney contact information] for a [free] case review.
The Scaffolding Law and Worker’s Compensation
Workers injured by scaffolding collapses, accidents, or falls in other states are left to deal with worker’s compensation to cover lost wages and medical bills. New York law offers additional protections to victims of workplace falls, and scaffolding collapses. The Scaffold Law imposes substantial liability on contractors and most property owners for injuries caused to construction site workers and site visitors. Contractors and most property owners will be financially responsible whenever a worker or visitor is injured.
New York also permits injured workers suing for fall and gravity-related injuries under The Scaffold Law to file for worker’s compensation to reduce the financial impact of job-related injuries. Unsure if your worker’s compensation claim will be enough to compensate you for a long-lasting injury? Contact [Attorney contact information] for a [free] case review.
The Scaffolding Law aims to protect construction workers and visitors to construction sites from fall-related injuries by creating a powerful tool to hold negligent construction companies accountable. Whether the damage occurs when tools fall from a height, a worker falls from a railing, or an unsteady room collapses on a work site visitor, New York law provides more legal protections than any other state.
The typical gravity-related injury involves an object falling from a height onto someone walking on the job site below. To be protected by the New York scaffolding law, an employee needs to be working in the construction, demolition, or repairing of buildings. The law also protects painters, building cleaners, and window washers and establishes strict guidelines for the type of safety equipment issued to people working on or visiting a job site.
The law also requires construction site management to inspect their worksites to ensure that no machinery, equipment, or devices create an undue risk to any employees or visitors. The Scaffolding Law only applies to construction work. This law does not cover routine upkeep, light housekeeping, and maintenance. Were you injured by unsafe construction equipment on a job site? If so, contact [Attorney contact information] for a [free] case review.
Not All Injuries Are Covered
Contractors that provide adequate safety equipment and fall protection can reduce their liability under the Scaffold Law. Property owners and contractors can also avoid liability for fall and gravity-related injuries if the injured worker was hurt because they refused to use provided safety equipment or was injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The Scaffolding Law also does not protect motorcyclists, bus passengers, or pedestrians injured by falling construction debris unless they are legally on a job site. If falling objects injured you while walking on a sidewalk, contact [attorney/firm] for a free case review.
Pedestrian Injuries Related to Scaffolding
Properly designed scaffolding can protect pedestrians from falling objects, but even the best scaffolding can create unique dangers resulting in dangerous falls. Contractors must make sure that the scaffolding they erect protects pedestrians from falling objects. It must also be well-lit, free from trip and fall hazards, and generally good condition.
Companies must regularly inspect the scaffolding they build to ensure that it is structurally sound. While contractors are responsible for checking suspended scaffolds, supported scaffolds, and sidewalk sheds for rot, wear, and metal fatigue, inferior construction methods are still prevalent in New York City. Even the best-made scaffolding can also fall into disrepair through heavy use or neglect.
If you suspect that scaffolding in your community is in danger of collapsing or causing severe injury, contact the NYC Scaffolding Safety Unit. Enforcement complaints are taken seriously and can lead to fines and other administrative actions against property owners. These complaints can detect critical design and material condition failures that could lead to tragic outcomes.
NYC witnessed two such outcomes in the past several months. A construction company’s failure to regularly inspect sidewalk sheds can create substantial dangers for your community. One scaffolding collapse in late 2019 injured four Hudson Yard construction workers. Several months later, a wind-induced Brooklyn scaffolding collapse killed three people.
If your injuries are related to a scaffolding related fall, contact a NYC construction site accident lawyer.