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Each day, construction workers in New York face numerous hazards on the job. One of the most common causes of injury and death on construction sites is falling objects. This is when a smaller object (a dropped tool, debris, heavy building material, etc.) falls, potentially causing serious injury to someone below.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers being struck by objects among the fatal four leading causes of construction accident deaths.
Negligence, careless behavior, faulty equipment or machinery, failure to secure an object properly, as well as attempts to shortcut or get around the federal safety regulations for the construction industry can put workers in harm’s way.
The reasons a worker may be struck by an object include:
In addition to tools and material falling from elevated work platforms, construction workers are frequently injured by loads being dropped while being moved or loaded, and heavy equipment tipping over or rolling onto workers.
Other common injuries sustained in falling object incidents are:
The extent of falling object injuries a construction worker might sustain depends on the size and weight of the object, the height from which it fell, whether other objects slowed its fall, and whether or not the victim was wearing protective gear.
Construction workers in New York recently found themselves in a terrifying situation when a section of guardrail at a Park Avenue Tower construction site suddenly became dislodged from its hoist more than 81 stories up.
An apparent malfunction of the hoist caused the eight-foot-long guardrail to go crashing to the ground where it landed on the sidewalk in front of a nearby building across 56th Street. Although the building is occupied, no injuries were sustained. That is not always the case.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 42,400 “struck by falling object” accidents every year. That accounts for 116 injuries caused by falling objects every day or one every 10 minutes.
The OSHA and the New York Department of Labor have safety standards to protect workers from falling objects. When a worker is struck by falling tools, material, debris, or other objects, it is usually because someone has disregarded established policies and procedures meant to prevent such an accident.
Sometimes, negligent employers may fail to enforce wearing safety gear or improperly secure work areas. This increases the risk of employees being hit and injured from falling objects.
Fortunately, there are a number of safety measures companies and workers can take to reduce the odds of a construction accident caused by falling objects leading to serious injury or death.
Construction and demolition professionals, superintendents, foremen and other managers in New York know or should know they are required to take various steps to protect workers from falling objects.
Those who take shortcuts to save time, money, or simply the effort required to protect workers are negligent.
The most common falling objects at a construction site are dropped tools from fellow workers. Poorly placed buckets, tools, hammers, and scraps of wood or metal can also fall and injure multiple workers. Material stacked or placed on shelving improperly can also fall and injure passersby.
Forklifts are known to flip and cause accidents, and even job-site trucks can be improperly loaded and drop their loads. Workers who work in the fall zone can be gravely injured.
A hard hat is the most recognized means of protecting a construction worker from traumatic head injuries caused by falling objects. Head protection is required by OSHA rules as well as the State of New York.
The NY Department of Labor’s Safety and Health rules for personal protective equipment require that every worker who is required to work or pass within any area where there is a danger of being struck by falling objects or materials (or where the hazard of head bumping exists) shall be provided with and required to wear an approved safety hat.
New York Labor Law (§ 23) requires such protection from falling objects such as:
In addition to NY Labor Law, the General Duty Clause of the federal OSHA requires that employers provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Falling objects can cause victims severe blunt-force trauma and leave an employee out of work for months or unable to return to work.
If you have been injured by something falling at a job site, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. You also may be entitled to make a claim against the owner of the property or as part of the special rights granted by the New York ladder and scaffold law.
Our New York City construction accident attorneys of Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. can work with you to ensure that you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 212-490-5700 to schedule a free consultation of your case.
If you have suffered an injury that requires medical treatment while working at a construction site, you should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
New York workers’ compensation pays for all medical bills, including medication costs, and for a portion of lost wages during recovery.
You may also be able to seek additional compensation from a property owner or employer if the accident was covered by the New York ladder and scaffold law. Other parties responsible for your accident may also be held accountable through a third-party lawsuit.
In such a lawsuit, you would have to show that a party other than your employer was negligent in a manner that contributed to your accident and that the accident caused your injuries.
A third-party lawsuit might be filed against a:
A third-party lawsuit may also seek money that workers’ compensation does not pay, including payments for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship.
Any time a construction worker has been seriously injured in a job-site accident, the circumstances should be independently investigated by an attorney knowledgeable about the construction industry in New York.
Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. has the experience necessary to investigate the circumstance of a construction accident caused by falling objects and ensure that injured workers obtain all the compensation they are due, including available compensation through third-party claims.
Rest assured knowing that our aggressive yet empathetic lawyers are working diligently to hold responsible parties accountable for your losses, whether they are employers, manufacturers of defective products, or negligent fellow employees.
The NYC personal injury lawyers of Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. have years of experience investigating construction accidents on behalf of injured workers and their families. We can work to resolve your case in a manner that ensures your financial recovery and your ability to move forward with your life. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation. 212-490-5700.
“I retained Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek for a serious personal injury case. They were very professional and managed to obtain a settlement for me that far exceeded my expectations. I would strongly recommend this firm for anyone’s legal needs.”