Scaffolding Accidents Result in Approximately 4,500 Injuries Every Year
Working with heavy equipment and building materials on the limited space of a scaffold is both difficult and dangerous for New York construction workers. Falls from scaffolds can result in injuries ranging in severity from sprains to death. According to OSHA statistics, it is estimated that scaffolding accidents result in 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year. If these accidents could be avoided, it would save American employers $90 million in lost wages. Many of theses accidents occur when planking or supports give way, employees slip or trip, or falling objects strike workers on scaffolds. Defective or improperly assembled scaffolding is also a major cause of injury on construction sites. In order to avoid unnecessary hazards, all scaffolds should be assembled according to the manufacturer's instructions. Guardrails should be installed along open sides and at the ends of platforms and personal fall arrest systems should be worn by workers.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) defines a personal fall arrest system as a system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a working level. It consists of a full body harness that workers fasten with a lifeline to a secure anchorage and is designed to stop an employee from hitting a lower level or structure during a fall. Personal fall arrest systems include the following components:
- Body Harness: The body harness is designed to minimize stress forces on a construction worker's body in the event of a fall from a scaffold, while providing sufficient freedom of movement to allow work to be performed.
- Attachment Location: According to OSHA guidelines, the attachment of the body harness must be located in the center of the worker's back near the shoulder level, or above the head.
- Vertical Lifeline/Lanyard: Vertical lifelines or lanyards must have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds, and should be protected against being cut or abraded. Each employee working on the scaffold should be attached to a separate vertical lifeline. Two employees can be attached to the same lifeline during the construction of elevator shafts as long as both employees are working atop a false car that is equipped with guardrails and the strength of the lifeline is 10,000 pounds.
- Horizontal Lifeline: A horizontal lifeline is a pliable line rigged in a horizontal plane and secured at each end to an anchorage. The worker is connected to the line using a personal fall arrest system that moves with the worker between the two anchorage points.
- Anchorages: Anchorages are used for the attachment of personal fall arrest equipment. They must be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per employee attached and should be used under the supervision of a qualified individual.
- Webbing: The webbing is the ropes and straps used in lifelines, lanyards, and strength components of body harnesses. It must be made from synthetic fibers.
- Connectors: Personal fall arrest system connectors include D-rings and snaphooks. They must be made from drop-forged, pressed or formed steel, or equivalent materials and have a corrosion-resistant finish. They should also have smooth surfaces in order to prevent damage to connecting parts of the system. OSHA sets forth minimum strength requirements for D-rings and snaphooks.
NYC Lawyers for Construction Accident Lawsuits
New York Labor Law section 240, also known as the "scaffold law," protects workers that have been injured on or around a scaffold. The law favors the injured worker in the case of scaffolding accidents, placing much of the liability for properly erecting, maintaining, and using scaffolding on those in charge of the construction site. Our lawyers know the laws of the state, and we use them to fight for our clients' right to compensation.
When construction accidents occur due to negligence in the construction or maintenance of the scaffolding, the injury victim may be able to recover compensation with the help of a New York accident attorney. If you are a construction accident victim, the law firm of Block O'Toole & Murphy is ready to help you today. Click here for a free case evaluation from an experienced attorney. Serving New York State and all boroughs of New York City including Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
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