Recently a construction worker fell 80 feet from the top of a construction worksite scaffold in Brooklyn, New York. Though he survived the fall, questions surround why the fall even occurred at all.

Since 1885, New York has had a scaffolding law in place to hold property owners and municipalities completely liable when workers were injured or killed by a construction site fall. In more recent years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Workers’ Compensation (Workers’ Comp) have instituted safety regulations to improve working conditions and worker safety. With the safety regulations in place, some business and land owners argue that the scaffolding law is no longer necessary and are pressuring lawmakers to repeal it. However, the recent construction accident may indicate the importance of the rules. Following an inspection of the New York construction site, OSHA cited the company for six violations with proposed fines of $36,000. The company was also cited for a repeat violation and faces an additional proposed fine of $38,500. These violations included the following:

  • Scaffold lacked guardrails
  • Access platform was not secured
  • Scaffold platform was not fully planked
  • Worker was not tied off to a safe anchor point
  • Employees climbed scaffold frames to access work areas

Even with OSHA and workers’ comp striving to protect workers and to maintain safe workplaces, their actions do not replace the protections the scaffold law provides to New York construction workers. The scaffold law is another enforcement mechanism which holds New York contractors and property owners responsible for safe construction sites and makes them accountable for workplace accidents. Source: WorkersCompensation.com, “80 Foot Fall from Scaffold Earns NY Employer OSHA Citation.”