Construction job sites are some of the most hazardous work settings in Brooklyn. Construction workers suffer serious and fatal injuries more than workers in almost any other industry. Most construction accidents can be prevented when construction company owners, managers, subcontractors, and others take safety seriously. But anyone who pays attention to the local news knows that construction accidents still happen far more often than they should. Slip, trip, and fall accidents are especially common on construction sites in Brooklyn and throughout New York City.
Any slip and fall accident can result in severe injuries, but those that occur on construction sites are especially dangerous. Construction workers frequently operate from high elevations, where a slip and fall could mean a plummet of several stories. But even falls onto the same level have the potential to cause disabling or fatal injuries. When a worker is left permanently disabled or a family is forced to grieve for a loved one who passed away in a preventable accident, it’s important to ask if and how negligence led to the accident.
Common Construction Slip & Fall Hazards
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), slips, trips, and falls account for the majority of general industry work accidents. These accidents are the second-leading cause of accidental death behind motor vehicle accidents. Approximately 17% of disabling work-related injuries result from falls. However, OSHA also claims that most slip and falls could have been prevented by making the workplace safer.
There is a wide range of hazards which frequently lead to slip or trip and fall accidents and injuries, such as:
- Wet product and liquid spills on walking surfaces (such as water, mud, grease, oil, food, etc.)
- Dry product spills which make walking surfaces slippery (such as dust, powder, granules, plastic wrapping, etc.)
- Recently polished or waxed floors
- Sloped walking surfaces
- Loose floorboards and shifting tiles
- Loose rugs or mats
- Ramps and gangplanks without slip-resistant surfaces
- Lack of slip-resistant shoes
- Sloped, uneven, or muddy terrain
- Weather hazards
- Leaves, pine needles, and other plant debris
- Uncovered hoses, cables, wires, or extension cords
- Clutter and obstacles on walking surfaces
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Rumpled carpets and mats
- Gaps in walking surfaces
- Missing or uneven floor tiles
- Damaged or irregular steps
Property owners and employers have a legal duty to consistently check for these hazards and make sure they’re fixed within a reasonable time before someone gets hurt. Additionally, workers on these job sites have a duty to make sure slip and fall hazards are reported and taken care of in a timely manner.
How Can Slip & Fall Accidents Be Prevented?
OSHA has issued several guidelines for reducing the risk of slip and fall accidents in construction and all other industries:
Workplace Design and Work Processes
There are several preventative measures which can be instituted to make work environments safe from slip and fall hazards, including:
- Containing work processes in order to prevent discharge, splatter, or spillage of liquids, oils, particles, and dusts onto floor
- Use drip trays to contain machinery lubricant leaks and prevent them from dripping onto the floor
- Use ventilation systems to prevent smoke, steam, and condensation of water and grease from making walking surfaces wet
- Make sure work areas, stairs, and walking paths are well-lit
- Properly mark and highlight changes in elevations and step edges (through the use of anti-skid paint, slip-resistant coatings and strips, etc.)
- Provide handrails for stairs
- Provide effective drainage systems
- Install slip-resistant floors in high-risk work environments
Regular cleaning and maintenance dramatically reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents. Some ways to do this include:
- Making sure all aspects of the work environment are clean, orderly, and in sanitary condition
- Keep workspaces as dry as possible
- Provide platforms, mats, and other dry standing places
Safe Walking Practices
Employers should train all of their employees in safe walking practices and routes.
Wearing Proper Footwear
Workers should be provided with proper footwear with good traction.
Learn to Fall “Properly”
Employees should be trained in techniques that can minimize the severity of fall injuries if they do find themselves in a slip and fall accident.
When Can Construction Workers Sue For Injuries?
When a worker suffers an on-the-job injury in New York, he or she is entitled to benefits through workers’ compensation. These benefits will cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, but often fail to account for the full scope of a serious work injury. In exchange for providing workers’ compensation, employers are protected from liability when one of their workers gets hurt on the job. But while you may not be able to sue your employer, certain third parties who share the same work site can be held liable if their negligence caused your slip and fall accident.
Construction job sites are different than most other workplaces because workers from multiple employers are usually sharing the site. This includes workers from various subcontractor employers, independent contractors, architects, equipment operators, and more. Construction workers also frequently use tools and heavy machinery, which manufacturers have a duty to make safe for use. Property owners also have a duty to make sure the premises are safe for work. These parties all share the responsibility of ensuring worker safety on construction sites.
If your accident and injuries occurred because a negligent third party (someone other than your employer or coworkers) created or failed to properly address a preventable slip and fall hazard, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against that third party.
What Damages Are Recoverable In A Construction Injury Lawsuit?
Construction injury lawsuits against negligent third parties help account for damages which are not covered under workers’ compensation, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Reduced quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Death benefits for the families of fatal accident victims
Seeking financial compensation for a construction injury is a complicated process. It’s important to seek legal guidance from a Brooklyn personal injury lawyer who has experience in these matters. Your lawyer can investigate the details of your accident, identify possible negligent third parties, gather evidence, and represent you throughout the litigation. To find out more about how you can get the full financial compensation you need after a preventable construction accident, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.