Falling Objects: One of the "Fatal Four" Kinds of Construction Site Accidents

Last month a 30-year old construction worker was nearly killed when a hoist's improperly secured load shifted and plummeted five stories to the ground below. The 432 Park Avenue jobsite is the future home of the tallest residential skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. At a planned 1,398 feet tall, the building is being billed "a new icon" for New York City.

However, construction accidents have plagued the jobsite - which has been shut down multiple times by New York City's Department of Buildings. This latest accident occurred at roughly 4 PM on March 15th, according to DOB documentation. A 4x8 sheet of plywood weighing between 50 and 75 pounds came loose as it was being hoisted up to the fifth floor. The wood came plummeting down and struck the worker. He suffered unspecified injuries and was treated by NYFD first responders. Due to severity of his injuries, he was rushed to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The jobsite is owned by Macklowe Properties and CIM Group, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm and the work is being done under the supervision of Lend Lease, NYC contractors. This is the second such construction accident at the site. The first, just over a month earlier (February 21st), involved a crane which collapsed into an adjacent building, causing a total work stoppage at the site until the Department of Buildings investigation was complete. The official report ended with Lend Lease being cited for "inadequate safety measures." This time, the DOB cited the company for "failure to safeguard/unsafe rigging." If proper safety procedures had been observed, the wood would never have come loose.

The construction worker has a legal avenue to pursue monetary compensation for pain and suffering and unpaid medical expenses and lost wages under a common law negligence theory and violations of the New York Labor Law. The worker will also be eligible for workers' compensation benefits which will pay his medical expenses and part of his lost wages.

Though the man's injuries were severe, he dodged a bullet. Every year hundreds of workers are injured by falling objects at New York City job sites. Falling objects are one of OSHA's "Fatal Four" construction site accidents (which include electrocution, falls, and being struck by equipment/objects) and accounted for 10% of all fatal construction accidents in 2010. The most common objects involved in these accidents are hand and power tools and wood dropped by workers overhead.

If you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site, call the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 for a free consultation to learn your rights.

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