On November 18th at 11:30 a.m., an MTA worker was lowering electrical cables down a sidewalk shaft at the corner of Fulton and Downing Streets in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. While doing so, he reportedly fell to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of 20 to 30 feet. The worker was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he was last reported to be in serious condition.
As New York construction accident lawyers, we are all too familiar with the dangers associated with working around fall hazards like shafts, holes and trenches. Being exposed to a potential fall of 20 to 30 feet, as this MTA worker was, measures should have been taken to protect him.
What kind of measures? Fall protection devices that will prevent such a precipitous drop are mandatory at all job sites requiring workers to work at elevated heights such as this. But all too often, fall protection is woefully lacking on work sites. In a situation like this one, for example, it is likely that the fall could have been prevented by the use of a simple harness and life line, tied to a stable anchorage point at sidewalk level. One of the very real questions that people should be asking: If fall protection is not embraced at big government jobs like an MTA site, what are the safety conditions at the mom and pop job sites? The answer is not difficult to discern. Safety is often ignored at the smaller, less visible jobs. Safety is even sometimes secondary at bigger, more prominent jobs. Construction accidents continue to increase at an unprecedented rate in 2015 – – and the failure to observe basic safety principles is a big reason why.
First and foremost, we send our thoughts and prayers to this worker for a good and speedy recovery. We also hope that employers and contractors learn the lesson from incidents like this one – fall protection is a serious matter that must be considered and addressed whenever workers are exposed to significant elevation hazards. If not, what seems like a routine day at work can quickly turn to tragedy.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a personal injury law firm that has recovered close to $1 Billion for its clients, and believes deeply in fighting for the safety and rights of New York’s workers. We can be reached at (212) 736-5300 for a free consultation. More information is available at: www.blockotoole.com.