Construction Falls from Heights
Falls from heights are the leading cause of death on construction sites. Even when construction falls are not fatal, they leave victims and their families to deal with the challenging process of physical and financial recovery. The New York City construction fall lawyers at Aronova & Associates understand the impact these injuries have on families and fight to hold those at fault liable.
Types of construction falls
Falls from heights are the most common cause of construction site fatalities and they occur when workers lose their balance or support on any surface. Among construction workers, iron workers are at the highest risk of a fall. According to workplace death statistics, the rate of fatal falls among iron workers is 10 times higher than the construction industry average.
There is a risk of a fall whenever a worker is working four feet or more above the ground or other stable surface.Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 1992-2005, fatal falls in construction occurred from:
- 33% – roofs
- 18% – scaffolding or staging
- 16% – ladders
- 8% – girders or structural steel
- 25% – other, including falls through openings, off of non-moving vehicles, or from aerial lifts
Causes of falls from height in the construction industry
Some of the common fall hazards on construction sites include:
- Open access to roof edges, roof and floor openings, and other unguarded edges
- Faulty construction of scaffolding
- Unsafe portable ladders
To prevent falls from these hazards, OSHA requires certain types of fall protection, including:
- Fall arrest
Fall from height injuries
Falls from heights are the most common cause of death among construction workers. Fatalities often occur in situations where a construction worker falls to another level. A common way this happens is carrying a load that block’s the worker’s view. Other injuries include:
- Head injuries
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Back injuries
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Soreness and pain
Who is liable for a construction fall?
When it comes to a workers’ compensation claim, liability is not an issue. However, workers’ compensation is not always enough. But if a third party is liable, the employee may receive full compensation for their injuries directly from the at-fault party.
Both OSHA and the New York workplace safety laws impose requirements on construction site owners and contractors. Employers, construction site owners, and even other third parties on-site, may be liable if they fail to meet their safety obligations. When it comes to fall prevention, employers are required to:
- Train workers
- Provide protective equipment
- Conduct work site maintenance
- Ensure scaffolds and ladders are in safe condition and used properly
Common OSHA violations involved in construction fall hazards include:
- Fall protection
- Fall hazard training
- Fall protection for connectors
If your construction fall injury involved a safety violation, be sure to speak with a NYC construction accident lawyer so that your rights are protected.
What if workers comp isn’t enough to cover lost wages and medical bills for falls from height in construction?
Workers’ compensation provides some benefits for an on-the-job injury, including:
- Cash benefits AFTER the first seven days of the disability, unless the disability extends beyond fourteen days (in that case, benefits extend back to the first day); Cash benefits are capped at 2/3 of the worker’s weekly average wage and reduced to the proportion of the claimant’s disability
- Necessary medical care, regardless of how long the disability lasts (as long as it is provided by a medical provider authorized by the workers’ compensation board)
- Death benefits to surviving heirs of construction fall deaths, up to 2/3 weekly wage for the year before the accident and in some cases, funeral expenses up to a certain limit
In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party has the right to be made whole by a liable party so there are fewer restrictions on how much can be recovered. This means an injured worker may recover:
- Full payment for lost wages
- Medical expenses regardless of whether the provider was authorized by the workers’ comp board
- Non-economic losses like pain and suffering and loss of companionship by spouses
But keep in mind that in a personal injury lawsuit, unlike a workers’ compensation claim, the workers’ own negligence can be an issue that reduces the award.
Speak with an NYC construction falls lawyer
The overlap of the worker’s compensation and personal injury litigation causes confusion; not following proper procedures and deadlines can jeopardize an injured workers’ financial recovery. If you have been injured in Nassau County, or throughout the greater New York City area, speak with a NY construction accident lawyer at Aronova & Associates for a case review. We work with many construction accident victims and will help you understand your legal options.
Additional construction falls resources:
- New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, Workers’ Compensation Benefits, http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/onthejob/wcBenefits.jsp
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review: Injuries from falls to lower levels, 2013, https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2016/article/pdf/injuries-from-falls-to-lower-levels-2013.pdf