Scaffolding is often involved in any critical construction, restoration, or repair project on buildings higher than one- or two-family dwellings. Construction contractors use scaffolds to elevate workers, tools, and building materials. Scaffolds are a dangerous place to work — even when properly constructed and managed.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that roughly 65 percent of people in the construction industry across the US (2.3 million workers) work on scaffolds.
Common risks NYC scaffold workers face
In order to prevent serious injuries or deaths from occurring, New York's scaffolding law (Labor Law Sec. 240) applies to all areas where gravity poses a risk to workers. The law asserts that any scaffolding structure higher than twenty feet from the ground must be properly erected and bolted with suitable materials. In addition, a scaffold must be properly secured so as not to move or sway.
Complying with this law may help reduce the likelihood of an accident, but some incidents reported this year alone prove that any factor can lead to a serious or fatal accident on a scaffold.
For example, in April, a 51-year-old construction worker was fatally struck in the head after a piece of copestone from the building fell from an upper level. At the time of the accident, the worker was performing "permitted minor facade repairs outside of the building" while on a scaffold.
In July, a freak wind storm reportedly caused a scaffold in Brooklyn to topple from a 12-story building. Three bystanders were hurt in the incident. While no worker injuries were reported, this incident illustrates just how an unexpected event such as this one can put workers in danger.
In addition to these hazards, scaffold workers also face the risk of falling due to uneven or slippery surfaces, debris, wires, or defective planking.
The aftermath of a scaffolding accident
Workers who survive scaffolding accidents often sustain:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Bone fractures
- Organ damage
Recovering from some injuries may require months of medical procedures, pain medication, and physical therapy. The most severe injuries can render workers unable to perform certain job functions and can require lifelong treatment.
That's why it's critical to consult with an experienced New York workers' compensation attorney after an accident. The legal team at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys At Law will help you explore your legal options and negotiate for a fair settlement to cover all work-related damages.
We represent injured workers in NYC and throughout the state of New York. Contact us online today to find out how we can help you.