The CDC estimates that among construction workers, 81% of fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms involve ladders. What’s more, OSHA reports that falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
Injuries resulting from a scaffolding or ladder fall at work will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, if the accident happened because of another person’s negligence, injured workers may be eligible to seek additional damages with a personal injury claim.
Construction Safety Laws in New York
OSHA maintains a detailed and comprehensive set of safety guidelines to help protect workers using scaffolding and ladders. They include:
- A scaffold must be able to hold its own weight and 4x the expected load, including workers, equipment, tools, and materials.
- Scaffold workers must be protected from falling objects through the use of hard hats, toeboards, mesh, and screens.
- Scaffolds must have fall protection, including personal fall arrest systems and guardrails.
- Ladders must be able to hold 4x the maximum expected load, including workers, equipment, tools, and materials.
- Ladder rungs must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced.
- Ladder rungs must be coated with non-slip material.
Causes of Ladder and Scaffolding Injuries
Injuries involving scaffolding occur most frequently in conjunction with the following safety hazards:
- Open sides. When a scaffold does not have guardrails, a worker may fall off.
- Unguarded rebar. Even a stumble onto unguarded rebar can cause serious internal injuries or death due to impalement.
- Unsafe access to scaffold. Steps, ladders, walkways, and ramps must comply with OSHA standards to minimize the risk of falling.
- Improper or defective construction. The instability or wobbling that results from loose connectors and braces, a base that isn’t level, wheels that are unlocked, or wood planks that are cracked could cause a worker to fall. In extreme cases, construction defects could cause the entire scaffold to collapse.
Ladder injuries most often occur in the following situations:
- Defective equipment. Any malfunction in a ladder’s structure could lead to a tragic accident.
- Improper equipment. Using a ladder that is not rated for the load could result in a collapse, and using a ladder that is the incorrect height may cause the user to fall.
- Negligence or inattention. A coworker’s inattention, when he or she is tasked with stabilizing the ladder, could cause the user to fall.
- Inclement weather. Using a ladder in rain or wind could cause the user to fall.
- The use of a ladder near power lines or other electrical hazards could result in electrocution.
Ladder and Scaffolding Fall Prevention
Injuries from ladder and scaffolding falls may be severe, but they are preventable. To minimize the risk of an injury when using ladders or scaffolding, workers and their employers should:
- Observe the comprehensive safety program put in place by the employer;
- Understand OSHA regulations;
- Train workers to identify potential hazards;
- and follow safe work practices.
Get Help from an Experienced Ladder & Scaffolding Fall Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident involving a ladder or scaffolding, you may be entitled to damages beyond those paid by the New York workers’ compensation program. If your accident occurred as a result of a manufacturing defect or a third party’s negligence, we can help you seek justice. Contact us online or call us today at 631-928-8000 to schedule your complimentary consultation.