Construction Accidents Law
Scaffold and Ladder Injury Accidents
- One in three workplace-related deaths are from fatal falls.
- OSHA scaffolding regulations are designed to protect construction workers from workplace injuries.
- Most workers injured in a scaffold accident or ladder fall can get workers' compensation to pay their medical bills.
Almost two-thirds of construction workers use scaffolding while on the job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction site workers also frequently use ladders and other types of lifts. As a result, falls are among the top causes of injuries and deaths in the construction industry.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report found that 52 workers died in scaffolding accidents in 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that one in three workplace-related deaths were from fatal falls, with most of those related to ladders.
Scaffolding and ladder accidents can result in a range of serious injuries, including broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). A BLS study found that most workers injured in scaffolding accidents were hurt when the scaffolding collapsed, they slipped and fell, or they were struck by a falling object.
Due to the height involved, scaffolding and ladder accident injuries tend to be serious. Common injuries include:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Spinal injuries
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Cuts, abrasions, and puncture wounds from falling objects
- Internal organ injuries
- Knee, elbow, and shoulder joint injuries
- Permanent disability
Workers who are injured as the result of a scaffold accident or ladder fall are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation insurance provides medical coverage and wage replacement payments.
Some injured workers may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against their construction companies for damages, including medical costs and lost wages. Personal injury claims are time-sensitive. It is important to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A construction siteaccident lawyer can review the fall injury claim and explain your legal options.
Many of these types of accidents could be prevented if everyone in the construction industry complied with OSHA scaffold regulations, which are designed to protect U.S. workers from on-the-job injuries. Federal law mandates that all employers, managers, and workers follow OSHA regulations when working on scaffolding.
The key provisions of OSHA scaffolding standards include specifications on scaffolding fall protection systems, guardrail height, scaffold platforms, capacity limits, worker training, and safety equipment inspections.
All scaffolds must be designed and constructed in compliance with OSHA standards regarding equipment type, capacity limits, construction methods, and use. OSHA requires that all scaffold platforms be fully planked or decked. Scaffolds and scaffold components must be able to support their own weight plus a minimum of four times their maximum loads. Suspension scaffold rigging is required to support at least six times its maximum load.
All employers must fully train each employee who will use a scaffold. This training must be provided by a competent individual who is qualified to spot and mitigate the dangers associated with the scaffold being used.
OSHA requires training to cover the potential hazards of scaffold use, correct erection and disassembling procedures, and the proper methods of inspecting, operating, and maintaining the type of scaffold in use. Scaffolding should only be erected, dismantled, or moved under the supervision of a qualified employee.
New York City has unique construction injury laws compared to other places. New York Labor Law Section 240, known as the “scaffold law,” provides strict liability for all contractors and subcontractors operating in New York in the event of a scaffolding accident. This means that a contractor is legally required to pay all damages associated with a scaffolding accident that occurs on their worksite.
The law was created to provide special protection for employees who work on scaffolding. One reason for this extra protection is that workers who fall from heights tend to suffer severe and catastrophic injuries. As a result, New York places absolute liability on employers who fail to properly protect their workers from harm in scaffolding accidents. It also finds employers liable for any ladder injuries suffered from unsecured objects that fall from a height.
Under New York Labor Law Section 240, the term “absolute liability” means that lawsuit defendants can be found liable for a scaffolding injury even if they did not directly employ the plaintiff. Therefore, liability claims can be extended beyond an injured worker’s direct employer to include general contractors, property owners, and others.
Some courts have ruled that an injured worker’s own negligence does not absolve an employer or other defendants from legal responsibility. This means that any risk mitigation taken by the employer is not considered by the court.
Families who lose a loved one to a scaffolding or ladder accident may wish to speak to an injury lawyer about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of claim could lead to a settlement that covers funeral and burial costs, loss of support, loss of companionship, and other related damages.