The New York Daily News recently argued that the scaffold law in New York should be repealed because it stunts growth. The scaffold law says that developers and building owners are strictly liable for injuries resulting from unsafe scaffolding. Critics argue this has caused liability costs to rise dramatically and building projects are being stymied because the scaffolding law constitutes a “major tax” on construction work.
The reality, however, is that workers are at serious risk of being hurt in scaffolding accidents any time they perform work at elevated heights. Falls are one of the four leading causes of construction accident deaths each year – there were 47 workers killed in fall accidents in New York in 2012 alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers who are injured in a fall accident or family members of those killed by a fall, should contact a workplace accident lawyer in Buffalo.
OSHA Advises on Top Causes of Construction Accidents
Rather than trying to avoid responsibility for situations when workers are hurt in scaffolding accidents, it would be far better for employers, developers and building owners to focus on ways to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies the top four causes of deaths in the construction industry and provides tips on preventing fatalities from these cases. According to OSHA, the majority of deaths of construction workers occur as a result of:
- Worker falls
- Workers getting hit by objects
- Workers getting caught in or caught between items
OSHA’s advice for preventing injuries based on these top causes of death include:
- Making use of an appropriate fall arrest system and/or personal fall protection whenever work is done at a high elevation.
- Establishing and maintaining appropriate perimeter protection.
- Making sure that all openings in the floor or ground are covered securely and that the cover is labeled.
- Following all safety rules and best practices for the use of both scaffolding and ladders, as well as other platforms.
- Observing carefully where moving equipment and moving objects are and avoiding getting between those objects and a fixed object.
- Wearing visible, bright clothing whenever equipment or vehicles are being operated.
- Putting proper protection systems into place including benching, a shield system, shoring or sloping whenever trenching is done or excavation is ongoing.
- Avoiding excavation areas and trenches that are five feet deep or more without adequate protection.
- Locating overhead electrical wiring as well as other utilities before beginning to perform any construction work.
- Maintaining a safe distance from electrical wiring and utilities, especially when utilizing ladders, scaffolding and other equipment.
- Using portable tools only if the tools are grounded or double insulated.
- Using ground fault circuit interrupters.
By keeping these important safety tips in mind, workers can do their part to reduce the risk of being hurt or killed on the job. Employers, too, need to focus on training, OSHA compliance and safety precautions and should be dedicating their efforts to making workplaces safer rather than to repealing laws that provides an added measure of protection in a dangerous industry.
Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040. Attorney advertising.