If you have been anywhere near a construction site, there is little doubt you have seen scaffolding. They are not only used for helping reach higher areas for construction purposes, but they are also common sites when windows are being washed in tall buildings. What you may never have considered is what you would do if you suffered an injury or lost a family member in a scaffolding accident. Perhaps this is something more of us should think about given Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on an annual basis, scaffolding accidents result in 500 injuries and over 60 deaths every year.
General Dangers Associated with ScaffoldingAcross the United States, more than 2.3 million workers use scaffolding at some time during their workday. Some of the common dangers which can result in a scaffolding accident include:
- Poor assembly — a rushed assembly will not stand up to repeated use by multiple people. Accidents can happen if the scaffolding is not properly assembled.
- Insufficient safety equipment — every person working on scaffolding should have proper safety equipment in the event the unit fails.
- Poor training — climbing, moving, and working on scaffolding requires specific training which can help minimize accidents.
Factors Which Contribute to Scaffolding AccidentsWhile poor training or assembly can contribute to scaffolding accidents, there are other causes for these devastating, and often deadly, incidents. Some of these include:
- Environmental factors — rain or sleet can make the portion of the scaffolding a worker is standing on slippery and result in a deadly fall. Employers should use common sense when using scaffolding when New York is facing any weather-related issues.
- Insufficient inspections — scaffolding is often erected at the start of a job and may remain on a construction site for weeks or months. Scaffolding should be inspected daily before anyone climbs aboard.
- Careless workers — everyone involved in working on or around scaffolding should use caution, including those workers who are atop scaffolding. Each worker should be trained, use safety equipment, and ensure the unit is stable before ascending.
- Falling objects — tools, materials, and debris can injure those who are underneath a scaffolding should they fall. Every tool and piece of material should be properly secured when working on scaffolding.
- Additional hazards — as scaffolding is built, there may be portions of it which abut, or come in contact with electrical wiring. In some instances, a worker on scaffolding could suffer electrocution if there is insufficient space between the unit and the wiring.
External Forces Can Result in Scaffolding IncidentsWorkers, their employers, failed scaffolding, falling tools and debris, and weather can all have a devastating impact on someone working on or near scaffolding. However, there have been some recent news stories in the New York media which show even drivers on our roadways can pose hazards to those who work on or near scaffolding as well as those who are simply out enjoying the weather. Here are some recent examples:
- Crash at 50th Street and Second Avenue – eight people, six adults and two children suffered injuries when a van crashed into NYC outdoor dining area and struck scaffolding. In this instance, the driver appeared to have a medical issue while operating a van.
- West 45th Street and 7th Avenue — van crashes into a scaffolding after a delivery person left his son in the idling van and someone stole the van with his son inside.
Seeking Legal Advice Following Scaffolding IncidentsWhether you have lost a loved one because of a fall from scaffolding or you have suffered an injury working around scaffolding, you should seek guidance from a New York scaffolding attorney. This is important because before you can get the compensation you may be entitled to, there must first be a determination of who was at fault for the accident. Not anyone can just put scaffolding up at a worksite. The assembly must be done in accordance with OSHA standards and must meet minimum weight-bearing standards to be deemed safe. There may be multiple people who are liable for the injury, or your loss of a loved one. A personal injury lawyer can obtain the results of the various investigations which will be conducted and from there, the responsible party may be identified and held accountable.
Avoid Negotiating with Insurers on Your OwnVictims who are injured on the job in a scaffolding injury are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. These benefits are paid regardless of who was at fault, up to a certain maximum weekly amount. This also means, as a worker, your right to sue your employer is waived. However, there may be a coworker, a third party, or even an outside company who is fully or partially responsible for your injury. This will complicate the process because there will be more than one insurer and they will likely be placing the blame on the other. Therefore, it is helpful to work with an experienced attorney who has handled complex cases in the past. While a history of positive case results cannot guarantee a lawyer’s success in the future, you have the peace of mind of knowing you will be working with someone who is a strong advocate for their clients.
Contact a New York Scaffolding Attorney TodayWhen you suffer an on-the-job injury because of a scaffolding accident, you need help. Families who have lost a loved one also need help. No amount of money can ever make up for your pain and suffering but it can help you recover financially and ensure you do not suffer financial ruin because of an accident caused by someone else’s negligent behavior. Contact a New York scaffolding lawyer today and ask for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
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