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Falls From Height a Common Cause of Construction Accidents

Construction worker wearing safety harness and safety line working at high place

Injuries sustained in falls on construction sites are often fatal

In recent years, falls from height have become the leading cause of construction accident fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which recently launched “Stop Falls,” an educational campaign about the dangers of falling from a height at work.

The educational campaign – done in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) – hopes “to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented,” according to OSHA’s website.

How common are falls on construction sites?

In 2020, there were 1,008 fatal construction accidents nationwide, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of those fatalities, 351 construction fatalities involved falling from a height. That’s 34.8 percent of the nation's construction fatalities.

Worst of all, 2020 wasn’t unusual. Every year, falls to a lower level are one of the most common causes of construction fatalities nationwide. In 2019, a record number of people died in construction accidents – 1,102 workers. Of those construction fatalities, a record 401 people were killed in accidents involving falls from height, according to the BLS.

Construction accidents in New York City

While construction accidents can happen anywhere, fall accidents are especially common in New York City. To put such numbers in perspective, 72 people died due to falling in work-related accidents in New York State in 2019. Of those fatalities, 24 deaths, or 33.3 percent, occurred in New York City. And in terms of New York City construction accidents, 14 of those 24 deaths due to falls involved construction workers, according to BLS statistics.

In general, New York City construction fatalities have been a serious problem in recent years, particularly in 2019.

“Seeing a trend of rising fatalities in New York City is particularly alarming, and it’s time lawmakers commit to defending and expanding safety rules and regulations to ensure that bad actors are held accountable and workers can return home to their families at the end of the shift,” Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director of New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), said in an interview about the “alarming trend” in New York City constructions accidents.

Why do these accidents happen?

Falls from height at construction sites often occur due to dangerous working conditions or negligent behavior by co-workers or employers. To prevent falls, OSHA suggests taking the following steps:

  • Plan ahead – Careful planning often prevents many construction accidents. OSHA suggests planning how a project will be safely done, including deciding which safety equipment will be required to safely do the construction work.
  • Provide the right equipment – Many construction accidents occur because employees are not provided with the proper safety equipment. This includes personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), properly functioning ladders, and safely-assembled scaffolding.
  • Train employees – Employers need to do more than just provide safety equipment for construction workers. They need to train them on how to properly use such equipment and teach them safe ways to work in order to prevent falls.

Talk to a construction accident attorney in New York City today

Even the safest construction workers sometimes get hurt at work due to a fall or another type of accident. Injured workers need to make sure their rights are respected and that they receive the financial compensation they deserve to fully recover. An experienced attorney can help with this process, every step of the way.

In New York City, construction accident attorney Pat James Crispi of Keogh Crispi, P.C. can make sure your injury claim or lawsuit receives the attention it rightfully deserves. Our legal team knows what it takes to win in New York and can work with you to build a strong legal case.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our New York City office is located in Manhattan.

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