Two workers were seriously injured as a result of plummeting 20 feet through gaps in scaffolding at a Bronx construction site on Tuesday October 3, 2017. As reported by the New York Daily News, the two men were installing stone slabs on the façade of a 12-story apartment building on Third Avenue, near East 167th Street when they fell through the opening in the scaffolding.
Witness Mohmed Sinera told the New York Daily News that he saw one of them bleeding from the head after the fall. According to an FDNY spokesman, the two workers suffered both head and neck injuries. One was listed in critical condition.
As a result of the fall, the Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a partial stop order after an inspection revealed that the scaffold lacked end railings and was “not fully planked.” Three of the wooden planks in the scaffold were missing. Additionally, workers on site couldn’t produce scaffolding training cards.
This is a tragic incident and – based on the reporting – one that was wholly preventable.
The list of employer violations cited in the post-accident investigation includes:
1) Lack of end guardrails
According to OSHA’s scaffolding regulations, outside of erecting or dismantling the scaffold, employers must ensure that guardrails are installed “along all open sides and ends before releasing the scaffold for use by employees.”
The fact that the scaffolding lacked end railings makes it a work hazard, and the two workers should not have been exposed to this unsafe work condition.
2) Scaffold level not fully planked
In accordance to OSHA’s scaffold construction criteria, “all working levels of scaffolds shall be fully planked or decked.” This would prevent falls through gaps.
3) Lack of fall protection gear
It appears unlikely that the workers were provided with adequate fall protection equipment, if any at all, to ensure that they do not fall from the scaffold. Construction falls remain the most prominent cause of construction site accidents resulting in serious injury or death.
4) Lack of safety training for workers
According to OSHA regulations, each employee working on a scaffold needs to be trained by a qualified person in the subject matter. The fact that none were able to produce scaffolding training cards points to the strong possibility that the workers were not properly trained to work on scaffolding. This has been a recent hot button issue in the city council. The city council recently passed a bill that required workers on most construction sites to undergo at least 40 hours of safety training (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/nyregion/with-construction-worker-deaths-up-city-council-tightens-regulations.html).
Each scaffold fall case is unique, requiring a detailed and dogged investigation. However, preliminary reports strongly point to safety violations by the employers of these workers. The two workers that were injured were employed by Ideal Masonry. The general contractor for the construction project was Real Builders, a Great Neck-based business. Earlier this year, Real Builders was slapped with a violation for failing to cover up holes on the top floors of the building. Safety at construction sites is too often an afterthought until someone is seriously injured or killed. It has to change.
The scaffold accident attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are skilled at litigating construction fall cases and have recovered close to eighty $1,000,000+ results for workers in the New York construction industry. Notable scaffolding accident cases include:
- $7,000,000 settlement for carpenter who was injured while dismantling a scaffold
- $6,000,000 settlement for a union waterproofer who fell off an exterior scaffold while performing caulking work
- $5,885,000 jury verdict for nonunion laborer who fell off a ladder placed on top of a scaffold
- $5,030,572 verdict for construction worker that fell 25 feet from scaffolding when the scaffold tipped over
- $5,000,000 verdict for carpenter who fell from scaffolding during a renovation project in Brooklyn
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a scaffolding accident, you are entitled to certain rights under New York law. To get a FREE case evaluation with a qualified attorney, simply call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form.