A 62-year-old construction worker was killed recently when he fell from an East Harlem building that was undergoing repairs. The man had been replacing roof gutters when he fell from the top of the six-story building. There were permits for repairs to be performed at the East Harlem building; however, those permits were for renovation of apartments and the New York Times indicated it was unclear whether the gutter replacement was covered by the permit.
Tragically, this fall incident is not an isolated incident. Workers get hurt or killed every day when they either trip and fall on the same level or when they fall from elevated heights. When a worker falls and gets hurt, the injured employee or his or her surviving family members should consult with a New York workers’ compensation law firm to find out about disability or death benefits, as well as coverage for medical care necessitated by the fall.
The tragic death of the 62-year-old construction worker serves as a devastating reminder of the importance of taking all appropriate safety precautions to prevent falls from happening on construction sites. The incident is still under investigation and it is not clear whether fall protection equipment had been used in this situation. If fall protection was not used when it should have been, it could, perhaps, have prevented the deadly six-story fall.
Unfortunately, in many situations where fall protection is required, it is not used. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicated that the number one OSHA standard that is violated most often and leads to the most citations is the standard related to fall protection in the construction industry. Employers are simply not providing appropriate equipment, training, or guidance to ensure that workers who do their jobs at high heights are correctly using fall protection equipment.
The fact that the fall protection standard is the number one most cited standard means that many workplaces are simply not safe. The data on construction worker deaths reflects this. Falls are the single leading cause of fatalities among workers in the field of construction, according to OSHA.
In 2014, falls accounted for 349 of 874 deaths among construction workers, which means that falls caused 39.9 percent of total deaths within the construction industry. Falls, along with three other common causes of construction worker death (electrocution, being hit by objects, being caught in something or being caught between something) have come to be known as the Fatal Four. If these fatal four causes of construction accidents and injuries could be eliminated, a little over 500 lives would likely be saved each year.
Employers have an obligation to make sure that everything possible is done to stop falls. If a fall does happen, however, workers can make a claim and get compensation with help from a workers’ compensation law firm regardless of whether an employer was careless or whether an employer followed all safety requirements. Negligence isn’t a factor and a worker can get workers’ comp benefits as long as proof is provided that the fall injuries are work related. Contact Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff today to discuss your case.