Scaffolding is ever-present throughout New York because the city is always experiencing growth and new construction. While there is some risk of an accident every time a worker steps foot on a scaffold, reasonable steps should always be taken to keep workers as safe as possible. Tragically, and despite strong state laws to minimize the dangers, scaffolding accidents do happen. If you or a loved one have been hurt in one, you have a dependable legal partner in Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. Here, we take a look at just how hazardous these accidents are.
Four of the most common dangers
Construction work is dangerous enough, but the risk is compounded when a project requires workers to be off the ground. Despite provisions of the New York Labor Law (particularly Section 240) to ensure scaffolding safety, hazards abound. These are four of the most common dangers:
Falling from scaffolding, including slips and falls. Falls from scaffolding can be due to a number of specific causes such as lack of guardrails, improper use of guardrails, and slips and falls (which themselves may be the result of slick substances on the scaffolding or other conditions). OSHA rules and the Scaffolding Law require certain basic safety protocols to be met. When they aren’t, a worker can plunge to his or her death or suffer serious injury.
Access to the scaffold work platform is another reason these falls happen. A secured ladder, stair tower, or ramp should be implemented to allow workers access to the scaffold. Unsafe vertical or horizontal access to the scaffold platform could easily lead to a fall.
Collapse of the scaffolding. If the scaffolding is not properly erected, it may collapse. But just because the scaffolding is put together at the outset of the construction project does not mean it won’t become unsafe later. Inclement weather, the addition of more workers, and the subsequent use of heavier materials or equipment on the scaffold could necessitate moving or reassembling it to ensure worker safety. Only an individual who is competent in such matters should build, move, and dismantle the scaffolding.
Objects falling from the scaffold platform. Accidents could be caused that harm workers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists below or in the vicinity of the scaffolding. Installing adequate guardrails is one step that may minimize the risk of injury. But workers need to also be mindful in how they handle material and equipment while working on the platform. Carelessly handling such objects or even throwing them off the scaffold must always be discouraged. Non-workers should also be kept at a reasonable distance in the event something falls from the scaffolding.
Contact with electrical wires. The risk of electrocution may not be readily associated with scaffolding, but it can occur if the scaffolding is assembled too close to live wires. There should be adequate distance between the workers and any electrical hazards. In the event the scaffolding must be set close to an electrical source, the power should be disconnected or proper insulation should be used. These are relatively easy steps that can prevent major injury or death.
How We Can Assist With Your Scaffolding Accident Claim
If you are a worker who was injured because of a scaffolding accident, you may have legal options besides workers’ compensation. Our firm wants to explore those options with you. We will investigate how and why your scaffolding accident happened and then get to work holding the at-fault parties responsible. Reach out to Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. today to learn more.