Use of Scaffolding in Construction Poses Risk to Workers and Passers-By
You see it everywhere in New York City: scaffolding. It’s nearly impossible to walk in Manhattan without encountering it, as construction workers setup and use it routinely to construct, repair and reconstruct our city’s skyline.
However, how safe is all that scaffolding? And what are the possible dangers, to the workers and to the public, if that scaffolding is improperly erected?
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds, resulting in about 4,500 scaffold-related injuries per year. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study revealed that one of three causes were responsible for the injuries suffered by workers in 72 percent of the scaffold accidents:
The planking or support for the scaffold giving way;
The employee slipping on the scaffold; or
The employee being struck by a falling object.
According to OSHA, all scaffold related accidents can be controlled by construction company compliance with OSHA standards.
The regulations published by OSHA for the safe use of scaffolding are extensive. Not only should all employees be trained on the safe use of scaffolding before it is erected at a construction site, but highly trained personnel and even engineers may logically be needed to ensure that the scaffolding setup is safe for use.
The basic requirements that need to be met when scaffolding is used on a construction site include:
Scaffolding must support at least four times the weight than it will actually bear.
All scaffolding and related equipment must be inspected before use.
All employees must be trained to recognize the hazards associated with scaffolding.
Unfortunately, appropriate safety measures are not always followed. Scaffolding accidents are not uncommon in New York City.
For example, on November 11, 2019, four construction workers were injured when a scaffold collapsed on the 18th floor of a 58-story building under construction at Hudson Yards. According to the Department of Building inspectors called to the scene, the cross-bracing on the scaffold was inadequate to support the load that was placed on it.
In June 2019, a scaffold came loose at a construction site in Midtown, leaving a worker dangling in the air until he could be rescued. Two pedestrians were injured when bricks fell from the loose scaffold.
In another June 2019 accident, scaffolding crashed down from a 12-story building under construction in Brooklyn, injuring three people in the building next door. The DOB issued four violations to the contractor for failing to properly safeguard the site and because the scaffolding wasn’t erected pursuant to code.
Any injury to a worker can be catastrophic but injuries from a scaffold can prove fatal. The City of New York is seeking to ensure that all scaffold are up to code and are even now suing to revoke the license of a contractor whose failure to properly secure the rigging of a scaffold on a residential building in Manhattan resulted in the death of a construction worker in April 2019.
The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC has a dedicated team of New York personal injury attorneys who are experienced in handling construction worker’s claim. We have extensive knowledge of both New York State’s regulations along with the statutory requirements set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If you or a loved one has been involved in a scaffolding accident or any type of construction accident, please contact our legal team immediately. You may be entitled to compensation.