"As heard on 1010 WINS radio"

Arkady Frekhtman

NYC Construction Site Falls Remain Deadly

Every few months, another sad news story reveals that a New York City construction worker has fallen to his death. As most construction site managers know, falls are among the “fatal four” most dangerous threats to construction site injuries and deaths.

Close to 38.8% of the construction site deaths reported in 2015 were caused by falls. Many falls involve improperly constructed scaffolding, unprotected roof edges; poorly covered holes in floors; and inadequate fall protection training. Highly responsible construction site supervisors can easily prevent all of these problems long before anyone falls.

Another Deadly Construction Site Fall in Brooklyn – December 2016

Shortly before his death, Wilfredo Enrique, age 59, was helping to install a façade at 325 Kent Avenue where the Domino Surgery refinery once operated. When complete, this $1.5 billion project will create approximately 2,300 new residential units at the foot of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Bridge.

Like many other high-dollar projects, this one involved some controversy regarding the number of below-market units that would be included. Once that issue was resolved, the builders were able to get the area rezoned so that their new development could rise higher than what had previously been approved for the refinery.

This added height may have played a direct role in Mr. Enrique’s death. After his fall took place near 8 AM in December 2016, he was taken to a nearby medical center where he died due to his extensive head injuries.

Added Safety Protection Owed to All Workers

Our country’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has published extensive guidelines to help responsible employers fully protect their workers from serious fall injuries and deaths. For example, workers given a PFAS (personal fall arrest system) must be provided with proper safety harnesses that fit properly. No worker should ever be allowed to work high up on a project without the proper safety equipment.

Extensive fall protection standards are clearly set forth for construction site managers in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Some of the most pertinent information is noted in Part Number 1926, Subpart M – Part Title “Safety and Health Regulations for Construction,” under “Fall Protection.”

OSHA’S Fall Prevention Program

When they’re in too much of a hurry, construction site supervisors simply assign a group of workers to different tasks, failing to first put together a comprehensive building plan. OSHA suggests that when builders are first estimating the cost of any specific job, priority must be given to purchasing the most useful safety gear. Of course, workers must also be provided with the safest equipment that the employer can afford – and presented with adequate training to be sure each new task is handled properly.

Adequate/Steady Guardrails and Safety Nets Should Be Used

After accidents, many workers report that they had nothing to grab hold of once they lost their footing on a slippery surface. Supervisors must never require anyone to work on a surface that’s extremely wet or still covered with ice since poor traction can easily lead to falls. Safety nets should also be used to help stop dangerous falls. OSHA states that nets must be extended right below where a person is working – and never more than 30 feet below any work station.

While the need to find work may be great, workers should never accept jobs from employers who fail to provide adequate guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems. Always stand up for your safety and be willing to report any safety violations to both your supervisor and OSHA. The life you save really could turn out to be your own.

If you have been seriously injured due to a major construction site fall, you need to contact your New York City personal injury attorney right away. We’ll review your case and try to obtain the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.