By and large, the dangers which lead to construction accidents are already known, which makes it even more inexcusable when catastrophic or fatal accidents do happen. This is clear from the latest iteration of The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) list of its top 10 most-cited violations in 2017, which includes 9 of the same 10 violations as last year and indeed, many years before that.
Many of these violations relate to common gravity-related dangers such as fall protection, scaffolding and ladders. The common thread here is the danger presented to workers when operating at high elevations, which makes the newest addition to OSHA’s notorious list, “Fall Protection – Training Requirements,” unacceptable.
Fall Protection Still Leads the List
“Fall Protection – General Requirements” was the #1 cited violation by the OSHA in 2017; considering that this has been the #1 cited violation dating back to 2011, this has to be considered a failure for the contractors and employers around the country who continually neglect this most basic safety requirement.
Accidents caused by a lack of adequate fall protection are particularly tragic due to how entirely preventable they are. The fact is there are many different types of fall protection systems available regardless of what work must be done, so there is never an excuse not to provide workers with adequate fall protection.
The importance of providing fall protection and avoiding these types of accidents is underscored by the fact that more than a third of all construction accident deaths result from falls. Employers and contractors who consider safety to be a waste of time or money should consider the consequences of a catastrophic injury or death resulting from an otherwise preventable falling accident.
Scaffolding Issues Remain, Which Is No Surprise to New Yorkers
Coming in at #3 are violations related to scaffolding. This is only more evidence of the widespread problem of employers and contractors refusing to provide adequate fall protection, as the most violated section here reads: “Each employee on a scaffold more than 10 feet above a lower level shall be protected from falling to that lower level.”
Problems and dangers related to scaffolding are no surprise to New Yorkers, who see these structures everywhere and deal with scaffolding accidents all the time, such as the two accidents which just occurred in April 2018.
According to OSHA, scaffolding accidents result in more than 60 deaths and 4,500 injuries every year, highlighting the importance of taking all precautions to avoid these types of accidents. You can learn more about how to prevent scaffold accidents, and your rights to safety as a worker, from our Scaffold Accident Prevention Guide.
Ladders, a Danger to Construction Workers and Homeowners Alike
Violations related to ladders rank #6 on this list, a disturbing trend considering that ladder violations ranked at #7 on the 2016 version of this list.
The most flagged ladder violation insists that a ladder extends “at least 3 feet above the upper landing surface to which the ladder is used to gain access.” While it might not always be convenient to use a ladder that is tall enough for a job, it is the only safe way to work. Accidents resulting from insufficiently tall ladders are a factor in cases we have settled before.
To help prevent ladder accidents and avoid becoming just another statistic of an OSHA ladder violation that could have been prevented, check out our page on ladder accidents.
Fall Protection Training – Know Your Rights As a Worker
The most disturbing takeaway of this year’s list is the addition of “Fall Protection – Training Requirements” at #9. Despite fall protection being a leading violation for 7 years running, training for fall protection seems to be less of a priority than ever, evidenced by this item’s appearance on OSHA’s 2017 list.
In our Fall Prevention Guide, we break down many of the common causes of fall accidents and what employers can do to help prevent them. With all of the resources available, there is simply no reason for workers to not be trained on all the ways fall accidents can be avoided.
One point that must be emphasized is the phenomenon of workers being afraid to speak up about safety concerns, either for fear of retaliation by an employer or a sense of powerlessness that their voice will not make a difference. All that can be said on this is, as a worker, you have a right to a safe workplace, and if you don’t feel that you’ve been adequately trained, you have the right to speak up about it.
Proven Attorneys for Construction Accident Victims
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help pursue the compensation you and your family deserve. Our attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have obtained numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of construction workers in New York, including:
- $12,000,000 settlement for a union worker who fell 40 feet from a crane and fractured both arms and legs as a result.
- $7,400,000 settlement for a worker who required spinal fusion surgery after he fell while trying to uninstall an HVAC unit.
- $6,400,000 settlement for an ironworker who fell and required lumbar fusion surgery after not being provided with any fall protection equipment.
- $6,250,000 settlement for a framer who suffered complete quadriplegia after falling nine feet while working on a single-family home.
- $6,000,000 settlement for a waterproofer who fell at a project in Brooklyn and required both lumbar and cervical fusion surgery to treat his injuries.