Whether employees fall from a scaffold or ladder or simply lose their footing while walking across the job site, slip and fall accidents are unfortunately common on New York construction sites. Injuries from a trip, slip, or fall are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims in the construction industry, and can leave a worker with a permanent disability that makes it impossible to provide for his or her family.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents on Construction Sites
Construction sites are full of hazards, and the risk of falls is a daily reality for all workers. Since falls from height are likely to be fatal, the New York State Legislature has passed many laws specifically to protect workers from fall injuries on construction sites. If an employer or contractor did not take adequate safety measures to prevent a fall, an injured worker could pursue legal action for his or her medical bills, lost income, and permanent disability.
Negligence often results in a slip and fall injury due to:
- Scaffolding violations. Overloaded platforms, lack of proper scaffolding or netting, and a failure to secure or anchor ladders are just some of the many ways workers can suffer falls while working at height. Under New York’s Scaffold Law, construction workers who have been injured working at elevation may file a negligence lawsuit directly against the general contractor or property owner of the site.
- Lack of PPE. Employers are required to pay for and provide personal protective equipment to their workers, including harnesses, fall-arrest systems, and other items that can prevent injury during work at height.
- Missing guardrails. Hatches, elevator shafts, holes, or platforms should have proper barriers (handrails and guardrails), as well as warning signs posted to alert workers of the danger.
- Spills and housekeeping violations. Labor Law 241 requires owners and general contractors to keep all passageways and work areas on a job site free of debris and obstructions that could pose a fall hazard. Hazards under this section may include failure to perform snow and ice removal, allowing wood and metal scraps to pile up in corners, failing to discover and remedy leaking fluids from spills or machinery, and allowing clutter to build up near walkways and exits.
- Workplace layout and design. General contractors and owners of job sites in New York have a duty to ensure that job sites are arranged in a way that will minimize falls, including placing machinery and materials away from pathways, ensuring surfaces are properly graded, and ensuring new platforms or floors are able to bear a worker’s weight.
Compensation for Construction Slip and Fall Injuries
After a fall to the ground or a fall to a lower level, an employee has the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for medical costs and income replacement. However, some construction work injuries are so severe that workers’ compensation benefits are simply not enough to make up for their losses.
These accidents have been known to cause:
- Head injuries. A fall from the same level can cause a concussion or traumatic brain injury, while a fall from a great height can cause a skull fracture or intracranial hemorrhage.
- Back injuries. Employees often land on their backs after a sudden slip, resulting in herniated discs or spinal fractures.
- Broken bones. Workers can break nearly any bone in a fall, but most commonly suffer fractures to their legs, arms, feet, hands, ribs, and pelvic bones.
- Accidental death. Unfortunately, many construction fall injuries will have deadly consequences. When this happens, the worker’s spouse or children have the right to seek wrongful death compensation from their loved one’s employer—and could potentially have a third-party liability claim against the manufacturer of a ladder or scaffold.
If you have been injured on a New York City construction site, our attorneys can get you the compensation you are owed—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a personal injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.