Falling workers

By Neil Kalra

We’ve already spoken of the more frequent sorts of falls in the workplace. But there is another class of fall that is much less traditional but just as dangerous to health and life.

Though elevator accidents seem rare occurrences, they happen more often than we think. We just don’t associate many injuries with such mishaps. But in November 2019 a young apartment dweller was crushed to death when its elevator malfunctioned. He and many other of the high-rise’s residents complained to the management about this dangerous elevator. But their complaints fell on deaf ears. Security video of the accident (and the two witnesses who shared his car at the time of the gruesome mishap) told a different story though.

Incidents involving elevators and escalators kill about 30 and seriously injure about 17,000 people every year in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That’s more than 1,400 injuries per month.

Of those 30+ annual deaths shared by elevators and escalators, the former account for 90 percent of those deaths and 60 percent of serious injuries. And these deaths and injuries don’t just happen to people riding these powerful machines. People who work around them (and maintain them) are also at equal risk. In the most recent year statistics were complied (2019) the 31 fatalities were split between 14 elevator/escalator maintenance workers, and those who used them or were in close proximity (17). A free-fall can produce serious physical injuries including severe crippling for life and even sudden death if the fall is more than a few feet.

Causes of Elevator Accidents

Many are caused by defects and malfunction, although most escalator accidents usually involve more trips and falls; though defects and malfunctions also cause some tragic accidents. But there are many ways for an elevator to malfunction. And though some elevator accidents are unavoidable flukes, most are preventable and involve one or more of the following elements:

  • Inadequate training for onsite workers

  • Lack of barriers to prevent falls down shafts

  • Lack of fall protection

  • Elevators still operational when out of service/undergoing repairs

  • Inadequate elevator inspection and/or maintenance

  • A pulley system malfunction and subsequent mechanical breakdown

  • Faulty wiring which can affect anything from the pulley system to the brakes which should stop a sudden fall

  • Unbalanced leveling of an elevator car which when in motion can cause victims to lose their balance,

  • Entrapment due to the heat from a fire.

Elevator owners are mandated by New York State Law to offer protection from falls for their maintenance (and construction) personnel who work in elevator shafts.

Other Falls

Falls from permanent ladders: Since 2016, OSHA has mandated that all permanent ladders have approved fall protection systems. But for even longer, the State of New York has mandated that all workers who use permanent ladders must be provided with OSHA approved fall protection gear. Failure to provide such equipment finds property owners and construction contractors automatically liable if there’s an accident. And yet, some still don’t provide this equipment in hopes of cutting costs. So filing a complaint with your safety officer is your right. if you are injured due to the absence of a fall protection system, owner liability can be pretty open-and-shut in your favor.

Falls from permanent structures: The same holds true for these types of falls. Taking all steps at providing fall protection (barriers, warnings, inspection of all barriers and fall protection measures) and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to mitigate fall risks are legal obligations of the employer and/or property owner. Every year several people are killed and many more injured due to falls from permanent ladders and structures in New York City. So use caution and don’t become a statistic.

Whether you were, or a family member was, injured due by a distracted driver – private citizen or behind the wheel of a commercial delivery vehicle; you may be entitled to full benefits and compensation. Know your rights and get the answers you deserve.

The attorneys at Kalra Law Firm are dedicated to getting all accident victims the compensation they deserve. Call our office now to speak with one of our experienced distracted driving accident lawyers to represent you in your case. We offer a free initial consultation and will not charge unless we win your case. If you have any questions about your distracted driving accident, call our New York City and Queens accident lawyers today at (718) 897-2211. www.unionlawyer.com

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