Falling Object Accidents in NY

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.


Falling Object Accidents & Injuries: Common Causes

The reasons a worker may be struck by an object include:

  • Improper stacking of materials or supplies
  • Failure to hold onto or properly secure a tool or machine component
  • Lack of proper training
  • Incorrect use of a tool or piece of equipment
  • Inadequately secured load on a crane, hoist, or boom
  • Too heavy a load
  • Failure to follow safety standards
  • Neglecting to use safety devices capable of catching or stopping falling objects and debris
  • Faulty materials or parts leading to a breakdown or structural collapse
  • Malfunctioning equipment
  • Lack of posted warning signs

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.

Common Falling Object Injuries

Common Falling Object Injuries

Construction workers are at risk of broken bones, head injuries, or even death from falling objects when they work beneath cranes, scaffolds, ladders, and wherever overhead work is being performed.

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.

NYC Guardrail Falls 81 Stories

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.

Falling Object Statistics

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.

New York Falling Object Safety Standards

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.

How To Reduce The Risk of 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.

  • Wear protective safety gear (helmet, goggles, hard-toe boots, etc.) at all times while on the job
  • Be careful to stay out of areas with posted signs warning about the potential for falling objects
  • Stay away from barricaded hazard areas
  • Never walk or stand in the fall zone under a crane, hoist, front loader, or other pieces of heavy equipment, particularly when it is carrying a load
  • Do not walk or stand under ladders or scaffolds, or any other place where overhead work is being done as objects and debris are likely to fall
  • Always use the right equipment for jobs or tasks at hand
  • Do not stack materials or objects too high
  • Take the time to stack materials in such a way that prevents sliding, falling, or having them collapse
  • Inspect tools and equipment before using them
  • Never use faulty or improperly maintained equipment or tools
  • Do not exceed the lifting capacity of a crane, lift, or hoist
  • When doing overhead work, secure your tools and equipment properly

There is a Duty to Protect Against Falling Objects

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.

There is a Duty to Protect Against Falling Objects

Dropped Tools/Materials

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.

Equipment Flipping/Tipping Over

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.

Hard Hat Requirements

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.

NY Falling Object Labor Laws

New York Labor Law (§ 23) requires such protection from falling objects such as:

  • Catch platforms mounted on an exterior vertical wall of any building or other structure and designed to catch and hold falling objects or material from upper working levels
  • Overhead protection on multiple-point suspension scaffolds where there is a hazard from falling objects or material
  • Overhead protection installed at the crosshead of hoist cars used for material hoisting to protect any person from falling objects
  • Sheds or other overhead protection on any walkway endangered by falling objects or materials
  • A protective platform above the level at which any work is being performed in an elevator shaft
  • Overhead protection for every operator of every hoisting machine used with material platforms or bucket hoists
  • Overhead protection for tower crane cabs and remote control stations for such cranes
  • A substantial overhead canopy or screen to protect the operator of every forklift truck from falling objects and materials
  • A substantial covering to protect the operator of every pile driver from falling objects or materials, steam, cinders, and water

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 Object Victims Have Rights

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. New York workers’ compensation pays for all medical bills, including medication costs, and for a portion of lost wages during recovery.

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. Working with an experienced New York construction accident lawyer can ensure you get the maximum compensation possible.

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We Can Help If You’ve Been Injured by a Falling Object

You may 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.

Who’s Liable for Falling Objects on a Construction Site?

A third-party lawsuit might be filed against a:

  • Subcontractor or vendor that failed to erect protective overhead platforms
  • Manufacturer or distributor of faulty protective equipment
  • Construction site property owner if the contractor in charge of the site did not follow safety guidelines
  • Engineers or architects responsible for site plans if the collapse of a structure that caused injuries was due to faulty design

A third-party lawsuit lets you seek payments for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Falling Object Injuries?

There is a deadline for anyone hurt by a falling object. New York’s statute of limitations gives victims three years to file their personal injury lawsuit. If you miss that deadline, you could lose your opportunity for getting compensation from liable parties.

Why Should I Hire a NYC Construction Accident Lawyer?

If you’ve been hurt by a falling object on a worksite, the incident needs to be thoroughly investigated by an independent attorney with in-depth knowledge of NY construction laws like the attorneys at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. These construction laws and regulations are complex

A lawyer with specific experience in New York’s construction laws will understand the nuances of the state’s safety codes and labor laws. Their knowledge is pivotal in personal injury cases.

Hiring an attorney gives you an advantage. They will focus on the logistics of your case and allow you to focus on recovery.

Your attorney can handle the intricate details of your personal injury lawsuit. They’ll gather evidence, conduct depositions, file legal documents, and ensure that you meet court deadlines.

Your lawyer will be your advocate, representing your interests in negotiations with the insurance company or arguing your case in court.

They will strive to secure the best possible outcome, aiming to obtain compensation that covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.

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Contact Our Experienced Falling Object Injury Attorneys in NYC

The NYC personal injury lawyers of Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. have over 75 years of combined experience investigating construction accidents on behalf of injured workers and their families. 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.

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