The bustling construction sites of New York City essentially all rely on one important type of construction equipment: scaffolding. As common as scaffoldings are around construction sites, it might be no surprise that they can pose serious risks and are often at the center of construction accidents in the city. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), scaffolding accidents are alarmingly common and can result in severe injuries, even fatalities.
Everyone involved in a construction project, from the newest new hire to the seasoned site manager, right up to the owner of the construction firm, has a role to play in preventing scaffolding accidents. The responsibility of ensuring safety isn't exclusive to any single role; it's a collective obligation that requires everyone's participation. Knowledge of safety procedures specific to scaffolding can be a vital tool in this endeavor. By understanding, implementing, and adhering to these safety tips, everyone on a construction site can reduce the risk of accidents on the scaffolding, creating a safer work environment for everyone.
Scaffolding Accident Prevention Guide
Understanding the necessary precautions and safety measures related to scaffolding is instrumental in preventing accidents. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it could be a lifesaver. By equipping yourself with the right information, you can make informed decisions that prioritize safety, minimize risk, and create a safer construction site.
Five crucial tips that every construction worker should know are:
- Regular inspections: Before beginning work each day, check the scaffolding for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Make sure it's stable and securely anchored. This simple routine can prevent many potential accidents.
- Proper training: Ensure that everyone who works on or around scaffolding is properly trained. This includes understanding how to safely climb, move on, and operate from the scaffold. Training should also cover emergency procedures.
- Use safety equipment: Always use personal protective equipment, including hard hats, non-slip boots, and fall protection gear like harnesses. These can significantly reduce the risk of injury in the event of an accident.
- Follow load limits: Overloading is a common cause of scaffolding accidents. Always adhere to the manufacturer's load limits. Avoid storing too many tools or materials on the scaffold at once.
- Keep it tidy: A clean scaffold is a safer scaffold. Keep your workspace free from debris, loose tools, or any other trip hazards.
Reacting to a Scaffolding Accident at Work
Scaffolding accidents can cause catastrophic injuries. If you or another worker has been involved in such an accident, it's crucial to take the right steps to ensure everyone's safety and to secure your rights if you have to take legal action afterward.
After a scaffolding accident on a NYC construction site, you should:
- Seek immediate medical attention: Your health is the top priority. Even if you don't think you're seriously hurt, it's important to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. Some injuries may not become apparent until later, and having a record of medical treatment can be essential for any future claims.
- Inform your employer: Report the incident to your employer as soon as you can. They should create an accident report when you do, which can help your claim.
- Document everything: Try to document as much about the incident as you can. This includes taking photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and the scaffolding itself. Also, make notes of what happened before, during, and after the accident.
- Speak with a lawyer: After a scaffolding accident, it's crucial to consult with a lawyer who focuses on construction accidents and personal injury law. Many NYC construction workers may not have workers' compensation because they are independent contractors or subcontractors who don’t fit the right employment definition. In these cases, they must file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for their injuries. A lawyer can guide you through this process, helping you understand your rights and the best course of action.
You May Have a Case – Find Out Today
New York has a unique scaffolding law—aptly named the Scaffold Law—that provides substantial protection for workers involved in height-related accidents. This law imposes strict liability on contractors and property owners for any injury resulting from a scaffolding accident. Strict liability means that if an accident occurs and a worker is injured, liability is automatically assumed to belong to the employer and/or property owner, with only a few exceptions.
If liability is contested and the Scaffold Law can’t simply block the challenge, proving liability will require demonstrating that negligence on the part of the contractor or property owner led to the accident. This could include failing to maintain safe working conditions, not providing adequate safety equipment, or not adhering to safety regulations. Given these complexities, it's highly advisable for injured workers to work with a scaffolding accident attorney.
At Keith Silverstein & Associates, our NYC scaffolding accident attorneys are proud to stand up for injured construction workers throughout the five boroughs. Let us provide professional guidance throughout the claim process, so you can focus on resting and recovering as best you can. We focus on construction accident claims that must go through a personal injury claims process, rather than workers’ compensation, so we can direct our resources, experience, and tenacity to cases that desperately need our help.