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  4.  » Worker Falls Five Stories in Ithaca, NY Construction Accident

Worker Falls Five Stories in Ithaca, NY Construction Accident

Shortly after 5:00 p.m. on December 14, 2020, Ithaca’s fire department, police department, and Bangs Ambulance were called to 709 West Court Street after a construction worker fell from the roof of a five-story building he was working on.

Upon arriving at the scene, emergency crews found the injured worker, a 37-year-old man, in a dumpster full of debris. Officials estimate the victim fell about 45 to 55 feet from the roof to the dumpster below. After gaining access to the victim, emergency personnel secured him to a back board with a cervical collar and arm splint.

Helicopters were reportedly unable to fly due to unsafe weather conditions so the victim was transported to Robert Packer Trauma Center in Sayre, PA via Bangs Ambulance. His condition remains unknown. Our thoughts are with the victim and his loved ones at this time. We hope for a quick and complete recovery after this frightening incident.

Ithaca Police Department is investigating the accident. According to the City of Ithaca, it is unclear if poor weather conditions contributed to the accident. However, it is important to note that witnesses say the accident occurred when the man, who wore full fall protection while working, unclipped his gear to go home. According to weather reports in Ithaca, NY, at around 5 p.m. the temperature was about 30ºF with light snow and 12 mph winds.

During winter, it is incredibly important that laborers working outdoors at significant heights are properly protected from fall risks. When snow is present, employers should clear any snow or ice from walking areas and spread deicer as soon as possible. If workers must walk on snow, they should have footwear with good traction and insulation. Additionally, workers should be trained on how to walk on ice. They should take short, slow steps that allow time to react and adjust to any changes in traction.

When falls do happen, they can be extremely dangerous; they account for about 33.5 percent of all construction fatalities according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Of course, the greater the height of the fall, the more damage potentially done to the body. According to the book Trauma Anesthesia, “The median lethal distance for falls is four stories or 48 feet (15 meters). This means that 50 percent of patients who fall four stories will die.”

Other major factors that contribute to fall mortality are the impact surface and the area of the body that makes contact first. In the case of Monday’s accident, the victim fell a potentially lethal distance of about 45-55 feet but landed in a dumpster filled with debris, a circumstance which may have saved his life. Had he fallen on a harder surface, his injuries may have been much more severe.

Fall prevention should be a top priority for employers. All employers are responsible for ensuring a safe work environment for their employees; this means properly planning how a job will be done, providing the correct equipment for the job, and making sure employees are properly trained.

The construction accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy understand the many dangers involved in fall accidents. They have a proven track record of helping victims seek justice for their injuries, including an $11 million settlement for a Brooklyn construction worker who fell three stories after stepping through an unsecured cover placed over a hole in the floor.

If you were injured in an accident, contact the lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy for a free legal consultation by calling 212-736-5300 or filling out our online contact form.