In 2012, there were approximately 609 fatalities in construction sites and on maintenance work zones. Although that number has significantly declined in the last 20 years, the number still is daunting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, 76 percent of roadway work zone occupational accidents were related to transportation. That is, vehicles involved in roadwork or maintenance caused these fatalities. Although that percentage is troubling, statistics show that falls are the predominant cause of fatalities in the construction industry. From 1995 through 1999, roughly 362 fatal falls occurred, and these numbers continue to rise. It is reasonable to say that construction work carries with it serious risks.
Guarding Against Injuries
Construction sites are incomplete structures. That means there are almost always holes in the floors about to be put in, wall openings, stairs without guardrails, and other hazardous sides and edges that cause fatalities as well as some serious injuries which can be debilitating. Construction site operators should be protecting their workers as well as pedestrians from these inherent risks by taking certain precautions. For instance, for heights over six feet, there should be safety guardrails available. Holes in the floor or the walls should be covered immediately to support employees and equipment.
Workers using scaffolds are particularly at risk for falls, and construction sites should provide guardrails along all open areas, safety net systems and/or personal “fall arrest” systems, particularly for scaffolds above 10 feet.
If you work on a construction site scaffold, you should make sure these safety systems are in use, not only for your own protection, but also for the protection of everyone else on the site. Unfortunately, safety precautions are not always implemented. If they aren’t, that is the responsibility of owners/management.
When construction site safety measures are not in place, whether you are an employee or a passer-by, you could end up seriously hurt. In that case, you may be eligible for compensation.
In fact, in New York, the scaffold law (New York Labor Law 240) is in place to protect construction workers who have been injured due to scaffold accidents. This law assigns the majority of the responsibility for injury not only on property owners, but also on contractors and subcontractors involved in the project. Unfortunately, often construction workers injured on-site are unaware that they are protected by Labor Laws. While, in fact, these Labor Laws exist to provide protection to all areas of the trade including painters, electricians, carpenters, and most other construction specialties.
A major complication that may arise when trying to obtain compensation for your injuries is determining what persons or entities are liable. One construction site may have a property owner, a general contractor, and several subcontractors such as engineers, architects, and electricians, for example.
Sorting through this often long list of potentially liable individuals or entities requires the skill and knowledge of an attorney experienced specifically in construction site accidents and liability. He or she presumably has handled many such cases, and should be quite familiar with Court decisions.
What To Do If You’re Injured
If you are injured as a result of a construction site accident, here are some things to consider:
If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction site accident, and you need assistance, contact The Noll Law Firm. We will review the facts to ascertain whether you have a viable claim.