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Falling debris in the workplace

Falling debris is one of the reasons for workers' compensation claims in New York. The effects can range from minor bruising to even death, depending on the size and weight of the object. Debris can cause injuries to construction workers and also pedestrians in the vicinity of construction projects. 

According to the New York Post, pedestrian injuries have been increasing in the state. Falling glass, pieces of concrete, planks and flying plywood were all involved in pedestrian and vehicle incidences in the past years. Proper safety procedures at construction sites can greatly cut down on accidents that affect both pedestrians and workers. 

According to the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, both procedural and physical controls can be used to protect people around worksites. Procedural controls include things such as:

  • Proper hoisting practices - areas should be barricaded, and a signaler should assist the operator 
  • Balanced and secured loads - the work area should have guardrails, and loose pieces should be removed or secured
  • Correct material stacking - materials should always be secured
  • Good housekeeping - materials should be kept away from edges and workers need to be aware of their surroundings

In regard to physical controls, barricades and accompanying signs prevent workers and others from entering excluded areas. Overhead structures should be used when a barricade is not realistic. Guardrails with toeboards should be used, and screening should be applied when the material is stacked more than 3.5 inches high. When work is being performed above an open grate, a non-slip product such as plywood should be placed on top to prevent objects from falling through.

 

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Success Stories

  • A 43 year old ironworker who fell four stories and sustained injuries to his ankle while installing a staircase settled his claim for $1,500,000.00. The accident was due to the failure of the building owner and general contractor to provide a safe place to work.
  • A construction worker operating an asphalt roller settled his case for $525,000.00 when the edge of the roadway he was paving collapsed into a trench being dug by a subcontractor causing him to sustain injuries to his leg.
  • A 54 year old commuter settled his case against the NYCTA for $1,200,000.00. when he tripped and fell on a subway platform due to the pavement being in disrepair, causing him to fall forward and to strike his head on a train pulling into the station.
  • The estate of a 64 year old woman received a settlement of $425,000.00 after she was struck and killed by a speeding tractor trailer while crossing the street at the intersection of Richmond Terrace and Port Richmond Avenue.
  • A $1,200,000.00 settlement was reached on behalf of a 54 year old man from Staten Island, New York, who, while in the course of his employment as a bus driver, was rear-ended on the Garden State Parkway and caused to suffer injuries to his back and neck as well as a fractured rib and fractured pelvis.
  • A 47-year-old building superintendent who sustained injuries to his head and right side of his body due to a tripping hazard at his job site received a settlement of $300,000.00 from the electrical company performing work at the site.
  • A 43 year old construction worker was caused to sustain injuries to his back, shoulder and hand when the elevator he was riding malfunctioned and dropped 8 floors. He received $350,000.00 in the settlement of his claim against the building owner, maintenance company and elevator company.
  • The administrator of the estate of a 69 year old man who suffered stage four pressure sores while a patient at a Queens nursing home settled the case for $400,000.00 after the man died.
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