Falls remain one of the most common construction site accidents leading to injury or accidental death. Unfortunately, such an accident claimed the life of a 62-year-old construction worker working at the Hudson Yards on June 5. The man fell 10 stories when the 16th floor platform he had been working on gave way. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Ironically, he had been working to build a “cocooning system," which is designed to help prevent falls.
According to OSHA, 65 percent of construction workers work on scaffolding every year. And according to 2003 and 2004 private sector data, those workers suffer approximately 4,500 injuries each year, and more than 60 die from scaffolding-related accidents. Many of these accidents occur as a result of:
- Platforms giving way
- Falling objects striking a worker
- Electrocution (from adjacent power lines)
- Scaffolding collapse
Whether scaffolding is of the platform or suspended variety, it must be safe for workers to use. If employers neglect to abide by established safety standards, they open themselves up to lawsuits if a worker is injured or killed. Here are some of the scaffolding safety requirements listed by OSHA:
- Scaffolding must support its own weight plus four times its maximum load capacity
- Workers may not work on scaffolding that is cluttered with objects
- Guardrails are required for work occurring over ten feet above the ground
- Scaffolding platforms must be at least 18 inches wide
- Workers must use personal fall arrest devices
Even with the OHSA safety requirements in place, accidents continue to happen on construction sites. When they do, injured workers are rarely in a position, physically or financially, to advocate forcefully for their own rights. This is where the help of an aggressive personal injury lawyer can be fruitful.