Over the past two years, there has been a significant increase in building construction activity throughout New York City, coinciding with a rise in worker accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries on construction sites. In 2022, 9 of the 11 fatal NYC construction site accidents were due to falls.
Last year, falls were the cause of 9 out of 11 fatal construction accidents
While falls can occur on construction sites of any size, leading to serious injuries or death, Brooklyn typically reports the highest number of construction-related fatalities. Employers and workers need to remember that construction site falls are preventable.
Workers have a right to proper fall prevention measures, work site safeguards, and regular safety training to protect them on the job. Although employers are responsible for creating a safe work environment, to protect themselves, employees must know how to identify possible fall hazards and advocate for themselves.
Watch out for 2022's fatal fall hazards
The New York City Department of Buildings provides information about work accidents and prevention as well as other relevant construction worker information. This includes explanations of fatal work accidents. These DOB reports serve as warnings for the types of real-life hazards construction workers face daily. In 2022, specific construction site fall hazards and scenarios that led to fatal accidents include:
- Lack of safety harnesses, fall prevention systems, and site-specific safety planning. At Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, a worker taking measurements for an alterations job fell from an 8-story roof-top to the second-floor setback below. It was determined the worker was not wearing a safety harness and was not provided with a site-specific safety orientation.
- Holes in floors, weak flooring. At Nichols Ave, Queens, while removing plywood formwork from a new first-floor concrete stairwell, a worker lost their footing and fell 20 feet through a hole. An investigation determined the safety measures and training provided were inadequate.
- Faulty or improperly installed scaffolding. At Metropolitan Ave, Queens, a worker doing brick pointing and lintel replacement was attempting to go from a fire escape to a scaffold but lost their balance and fell 30 feet. An investigation revealed the work was not permitted, the workers were not tied off, and the scaffold was not properly installed.
- Using the wrong tools for the job. At Marks Ave, Brooklyn, a worker removing scaffold planks to make way for a motorized hoist fell through a hole to the ground below. It was later determined that the hoist was not approved for the plans or supported scaffold.
Construction workers have rights
NYC construction employers are required to protect their workers from preventable fall injuries and fatalities. The following are just some of the City's safety mandates:
- Employers must provide fall protection to employees working over drops of 6 or more feet. This may include safety harnesses or installing guardrails or hole coverings.
- Supervisors are required to explain job-specific safety measures, including fall prevention, to employees in a language they can understand.
- A harness is not enough. Fall-prevention safety harnesses must be tied off to a secured lifeline to work.
- Floor and shaft openings must have fall protection, such as guardrails and hole coverings. Guardrails must be able to withstand up to 200 lbs. of lateral force, while hole coverings must be larger than the hole itself and support twice the weight of the worker, materials, or equipment being used.
- Leading edges, which are any walking surface like a floor or roof with unprotected sides, must have fall protection such as guardrails or safety netting.
Remember, a worker who notices construction site fall hazards should report them to their supervisor. If the employer does not provide a safe working environment, call the DOB at 311 to report hazards.
When to contact a construction accident lawyer
If you were injured or a loved one died in a fall on a New York City construction site, you have rights, and an experienced construction accident attorney can protect them.
At Keogh Crispi, P.C., our dedicated legal team has decades of experience helping our clients seek justice and accountability.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us fight for your rights and the financial compensation you deserve to move forward.