Earlier this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered aninvestigation into an accident at the World Trade Center site that led to the hospitalization of a 48-year-old carpenter. The man, employed by a large New York City construction company, was injured by a falling steel plate that broke his leg and caused multiple fractures to his body.
Given the high amount of construction activity in New York City, incidents like this are not uncommon. To accommodate the dense population, many projects in the five boroughs involve cranes and scaffolds to build higher structures. This puts individuals on the ground at risk of being struck by falling objects whenever overhead work is in progress. After falls by individuals, falling objects are the most common cause of injury on construction sites, accounting for 24% of 2012 accidents.
In a highly publicized incident in April 2013, a 24 year old construction worker was killed when a 1,700 pound pipe dislodged from a safety strap and crushed him. However, a falling object does not need to be heavy to be dangerous; any object such as a hammer or a screwdriver accelerates when falling and can cause severe injury or death.
Items that commonly fall and harm workers include standard tools, stays, blocks, irons and ropes. Injuries from falling debris can range from minor abrasions to concussions and permanent conditions like blindness, brain damage or death.
Many of these types of accidents can be prevented by following proper safety guidelines outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Worker precautions include:
- Wearing hard hats and safety goggles
- Using guardrails
- Putting debris nets in place
- Checking the condition of tools and only using those they are trained to operate
- Securing loads with straps or plastic wrap
- Cleaning areas of debris and putting tools away after use
- Posting warning signs in hazardous areas
- Keeping alert and aware when on the ground
Property owners, general contractors and foreman must also ensure construction site safety by providing proper training on workplace hazards, maintaining a clean and safe working area and performing site inspections regularly. If sufficient safety equipment and procedures are not in place, those managing the project may be held liable for injuries caused by falling objects.
Negligence can become a factor when property owners and contractors are more concerned with completing a project quickly rather than safely or don’t want to take the time to fully train workers on site safety guidelines. If a worker is injured by falling objects and debris on an unsafe construction site, they have the right to pursue legal action and ultimately may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss wages and pain and suffering.
Holding Property Owners, Contractors and Other Parties Accountable.
While construction workers are particularly vulnerable to injuries on construction sites, people who work in buildings that are under construction, passersby, and others can also be injured by falling objects, collapsing scaffolding, forklift collisions and other construction site accidents.
At Okun, Oddo & Babat in New York, we represent clients throughout New York City, and Long Island who have suffered serious injuries in construction site accidents. To set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us or call us at 212.642.0950 today. You will pay nothing unless we win your case. Our attorneys help both employees and non-employees bring personal injury claims for injuries suffered on or near construction sites.
Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.