Why Falls from Heights Are the Number One Hazard For New York City Construction Workers
by Shulman & Hill
Construction work, while necessary, is not without its risks. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2020 that one out of every five worker deaths from private industries was due to construction accidents. Of these accidents, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) lists falls as the number one construction hazard.
In a major city like New York, construction work is one of the most important industries in shaping the urban landscape. The labor from construction workers is what keeps our apartment buildings safe, creates space for new industries to grow, and has crafted the beautiful skyline that so many New Yorkers are so justly proud of.
However, construction work, while necessary, is not without its risks. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2020 that one out of every five worker deaths from private industries was due to construction accidents. Of these accidents, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) lists falls as the number one construction hazard.
New York City Construction Hazards
New York City has the most skyscrapers of any U.S. city, outpacing other metropolises like Chicago and Miami by far. When skyscrapers are categorized as any building with more than 40 or 50 floors, totaling over 490 feet in height, New York City currently holds the record with 257 of these giant buildings.
Constructing and maintaining these behemoths is an important and dangerous job. As a construction worker in New York City, you are entitled to certain protections while working on any construction site. These protections are especially important when working at a great height in the air.
OSHA lists several policies that must be followed by employers, as well as many guidelines to help keep falls from occurring in the workplace. Some steps that they recommend to reduce the risk of falls are:
- Fully functional personal fall arrest equipment must be provided, maintained, and in use at all times. Some examples of these may be safety harnesses and lines, safety nets, stair railings, or hand rails.
- Floor holes that could be accidentally walked into by workers or other people must be fully covered, usually using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover.
- Elevated open-sided floors and platforms must have guard rails and toe-boards.
- Work areas must be kept clean and as dry as possible.
- Workers must be trained about hazards in a language that they can understand.
- Work conditions must be kept free of any known additional dangers.
Recent New York City Construction Accidents
Thankfully, the death toll caused by work-related accidents in the U.S. was at the lowest it has been for the past seven years, according to the most recent census data available. However, in 2020 alone, someone died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury, not including illnesses possibly contracted from the work environment. This rate, while lower than in recent years, remains far too high. Any death, especially those caused by workplace accidents, is a tragedy.
In the past few months alone, there have been several recent accidental falls from heights on construction sites in New York City. A construction worker fell to his death while painting the Manhattan Bridge, plummeting to the ground near South Street and Pike Slip, near FDR Drive. Initial reports were not clear about whether or not he was wearing a safety harness, which might have prevented the terrible accident. Additionally, a New York City window washer died just this month after falling from the 12th floor of a new 21-story condominium building under construction in Dumbo.
Addressing the Aftermath of a Fall from Heights in NYC
An accidental fall from heights can result in large medical bills, lasting injuries, and very often death. For those left grieving a loss, or trying to recover from the accident, it can be a difficult time to seek answers. A New York construction accident lawyer can help take the reins during a situation like this and communicate with insurance companies to ensure that survivors and their families get the full financial assistance that they may be entitled to.
While financial compensation cannot replace the loss of a loved one after a fall from heights or reduce the trauma associated with experiencing such an accident, it may help you and your family cope with any associated expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and, if necessary, funeral expenses.
New York State’s Workers’ Compensation Law requires that most employers provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees. In addition to providing financial relief to injured workers, workers’ compensation benefits may also extend to close family members who may have lost a loved one in a work-related accident. A New York fall from heights lawyer can help you file a claim for workers’ compensation, and communicate with the insurance company to make sure they adhere to the law by providing the full compensation that you may be entitled to.
A qualified attorney may also examine the facts of your loved one’s death to see if there was any potential negligence involved that may have contributed to or caused your loved one’s accident. If a contractor, property owner, or similar party contributed to the cause of the fall, an attorney can help your family hold them financially accountable for your loss.
How Shulman & Hill Can Help
The compassionate construction accident attorneys at Shulman & Hill understand that workers trying to provide for their families deserve the best representation possible when things go wrong. Construction work can be inherently dangerous, but that is all the more reason why employers, property owners, and independent contractors need to take every step possible to protect their employees and foster safe and healthy working conditions for everyone involved.
If you or someone you know was injured in a fall at a construction site, you deserve dedicated, focused legal representation. An experienced attorney can provide the best chance of making sure you get the full amount of compensation you may be entitled to.
Shulman & Hill has a proven track record of helping New Yorkers who were wrongfully injured secure hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. Contact us for a free, no-obligation legal review of the facts of your case, and gain a better understanding of how we may help.