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September 18, 2013

Charlestown Workers Injured During Scaffolding Incident

Two men working at an under-construction home in Charlestown were injured after the scaffolding they were standing on collapsed.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. yesterday morning, and Boston fire rescue was immediately dispatched to the scene. Both men were transported to a local Boston hospital with injuries to their backs, legs, and necks. It is unclear of the cause of the accident or whether OSHA had been called in to investigate the incident.
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file000714418981.jpgThe construction business remains the most hazardous work industry in the United States, accounting for nearly 20% of all workplace fatalities annually. While both victims in this case are expected to survive, the incident serves as yet another reminder to construction workers of how dangerous their job can be. Carpenters and roofers incur risky situations on a day-to-day basis, and among these types of workers, falls are the leading cause of injury or death. In a report published by The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational and Safety Health, out of the 32 reported work-related deaths in Massachusetts last year, six were cause by falls.

Scaffolding is used as a temporary platform that is used to help build, install, repair, or reach any surface that cannot be reached by ladder. Scaffolding incidents can occur for a number of reasons including incorrect assembly and improper manufacturing. Accidents can also happen when supports fail or collapse, when scaffolding is broken, scaffolding is wet and a worker slips and falls, or when workers are inadequately trained on how to operate equipment.

Approximately 2.3 million men and women or 65% of those in the construction industry work on scaffolds in the United States. Protecting workers on construction sites where scaffolding is commonly used may prevent an estimated 4,500 injuries and 60 deaths each year, according to OSHA.

No matter what the actual cause of the incident—whether it was a misstep by the victims, a manufacturing defect with the scaffolding or any other circumstance that caused the men fall, ultimately the construction company may be liable. By OSHA standards, employers are responsible for providing safe work environments for all of his or her employees to prevent hazardous situations that pose the threat of serious bodily injury or death. Though the details of this situation are still vague, what can be discerned is that had proper safety precautions been taken; such as the use of a safety harness, the men’s injuries may have been prevented.

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June 14, 2013

NY Fire Department Rescues Two Men from 46 Story Building Following Scaffolding Accident

Two workers who became trapped at the top of the Hearst Building in New York City were rescued without injury Wednesday afternoon.

Rescue crews from the New York City fire department arrived around 2:40 p.m. Wednesday to help two window washers who became suspended on the 44th floor after the metal scaffolding they were standing on buckled and gave way.
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According to officials, firefighters worked from both the roof and from a window on the 44th floor (which was level with the scaffold platform) to reach the two men. Firefighters eventually cut a 4-foot-by-4-foot panel of glass from the window and pulled the workers to safety. The men, ages 26 and 49, were both wearing safety harnesses, and neither was injured. Firefighters were also able to pull the scaffolding up to the roof, where they determined that it was the scaffolding’s motor that had failed and thus caused the incident.

Luckily both men’s safety harnesses were functioning properly and they were uninjured. However, this is not always the circumstance. Earlier last month for example, two men working at Hingham High School were injured after they both fell off of the roof’s scaffolding. While both of the men were equipped with safety harnesses, one of the men was seriously injured after his safety harness failed.

Scaffolding is used as a temporary platform that is used to help build, install, repair, or reach any surface that cannot be reached by ladder. Scaffolding incidents can occur for a number of reasons including incorrect assembly and improper manufacturing. Accidents can also happen when supports fail or collapse, when scaffolding is broken, scaffolding is wet and a worker slips and falls, or when workers are inadequately trained on how to operate equipment.

Due to the height of scaffolding, injuries sustained during scaffolding incidents are often serious and sometimes fatal. Injuries might include fractures, head injuries, broken bones, or spinal trauma that could lead to paralysis or death.

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May 10, 2013

Construction Worker Injured after Fall at Hingham Middle School

A worker was injured Tuesday after falling from the Hingham Middle School construction site.

The 45-year-old man from New Bedford, MA, apparently fell from the third story scaffolding of the building around 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. According to Hingham Police Sergeant Steven Dearth, the worker was conscious when paramedics arrived, and was taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA. 1170121_construction_place.jpg

Construction at the school has since stopped while officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigate the incident. The identity and injuries of the worker are still unknown.

While it is still unknown the reason to why the worker fell in the first place, there are factors that may have played a role into his fall. Scaffolding is a temporary platform that is often used on construction sites to reach areas that are not accessible by ladder. These types of accidents occur for a variety of reasons including incorrect assembly, manufacturing defects, collapse or failure, broken platform, slippery surfaces, and inadequate training or experience with the equipment. And because of the height of these structures, injuries are severe or fatal and may include fractures, broken bones, spinal cord and traumatic head injuries, and even death.

Scaffolding and general requirements on construction sites are the number one safety violation cited by OSHA officials. Construction falls are also the number one cause of death and injury in workplace settings in the United States, accounting for 251 deaths (35% of total workplace deaths) in 2011.

Safety Tips for Workers

All laborers who regularly work on scaffolding must be properly trained with suspension scaffolding and fall protection equipment. In most scaffolding fall cases, the accident was completely preventable.

When working on scaffolding, workers should take the following precautions:

-Learn the proper OSHA standards and regulations for working on scaffolds; such as weight capacity, construction, fall protection, proper scaffolding use.
-Ensure that the scaffolding being used is designed correctly and conforms to OSHA regulations.
-Shield all scaffold suspension ropes and body belt harness system droplines from abrasive or sharp edges to prevent them from being severed.
-Carefully inspect all scaffolds and their components, as well as personal fall protection equipment.
-Ensure that all workers are well equipped with proper fall protection equipment prior to stepping onto a scaffold.
-Properly anchor tiebacks of the scaffolding at different points.

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September 13, 2011

Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules Two Employers Jointly Responsible for Employee´s Workers´ Compensation

A Massachusetts Appeals Court has recently ruled that two employers can be held jointly responsible for an injured employee´s workers’ compensation benefits, despite them each having classified the worker as an independent contractor.

In Leo Whitman’s Case, No. 10-P-71, Sept. 6, 2011, the court affirmed an earlier decision by the Industrial Accident Reviewing Board within the Department of Industrial Accidents by ruling that the claimant was an employee, not an independent contractor, for both of the businesses he was working for at the time of his injury. Leo Whitman, a construction worker whose specialty was installing drywall, had been working for approximately three years for two redevelopers, Stephen Sarcia and John Citrano. Each purchased, refurbished, and resold delapidated residential properties. The two men also introduced Whitman to Anthony Pace, the owner of PPM, a redevelopment company that also hired Whitman to work on condominium residences.

During this time period, Whitman continued to work for Sarcia and Citrano, whom he thought of as partners, and from PPM. Whitman viewed them collectively as “a group” because of their continuous supply of full-time work for him, according to the court papers. Throughout 2004 and 2005, Whitman worked for PPM in addition to Sarcia and Citrano at 10 different building sites. According to court documents, Whitman thought of Sarcia and Citrano as partners and he thought of Sarcia, Citrano, and PPM, as “a group” because of their continuous supply of full-time work for him. At the rate of $250 per day for five to seven days per week, Whitman was given daily assignments and was paid weekly by checks addressed to him individually. The payments were his sole income and Whitman did not submit a bid or sign a contract related to his work.

On Dec. 20, 2006, while Whitman was working for both Sarcia and PPM on a project in Ipswich, Mass., a scaffold collapsed, and as a result Whitman fell approximately 16 feet. He had serious fractures in his left leg, had two surgeries and two plates implanted with multiple orthopedic screws. Whitman was completely debilitated for three months and has been partially disabled ever since the accident.

Whitman brought his claim for benefits as an employee of Sarcia and/or PPM; however, neither had statutory workers’ compensation coverage for him as they both named him as an independent contractor. The administrative judge concluded that Whitman was a covered employee of both entities. The judge described that the two entities were “a consortium for which [Whitman] worked exclusively during the two years prior to his industrial injury…Pace, Sarcia and Citran[o] worked cooperatively throughout the claimant’s tenure.” The employers disputed that they were joint employers by arguing that there was no evidence that they operated with common management, ownership, and financial controls. However, as noted by the appeals court, state law does not require that joint employers must be integrated or single by ownership, management, and finances. ‘Workers’ compensation law in Massachusetts allows separate entities to constitute joint employers,’ the court said.

If you or your loved one suffers from injuries due to a work accident, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.

Source:

Mass. Court Rules on Joint Employers’ Responsibility for Workers’ Comp, Claims Journal, September 13, 2011

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Massachusetts Court Decision Could Influence Contractor and Subcontractor Liability,

Salisbury Construction Contractor Cited by OSHA Following Explosion

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November 24, 2010

Two Construction Workers Injured After Scaffolding Collapse

Last Thursday afternoon, a scaffolding collapse at a construction site injured two people. The workers were papering the side of a duplex house and reportedly fell 22 feet when a chain being used to secure the scaffolding broke. The construction accident occurred around 1pm in Sea Isle City, NJ

Police identified the workers as a 32-year-old man and a 24-year-old man. Both injured workers suffered chest and back pain. One of the workers may have broken his wrist. They were airlifted to the trauma unit of a local hospital.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 88 people died as a result of scaffolding accidents in 2007. Even if these types of accidents are not fatal, they can lead to serious and debilitating injuries such as broken bones, fractures, brain injuries, and even paralysis.

Source: Two Injured in Sea Isle City Construction Accident, Cape May County Herald, November 18, 2010

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October 21, 2010

Construction Workers Injured After Scaffolding Collapses

On Tuesday afternoon, a construction accident injured two workers after the scaffolding collapsed on them. The two men were reportedly working on scaffolding inside the Cleveland County Jail construction site when cinder blocks underneath them gave away, resulting in a fall of between 12 and 18 feet. By the time firefighters and emergency crews arrived at the scene of the scaffolding accident, workers were already attempting to pull their coworkers from the debris.

One worker reportedly suffered a back injury, while the other had multiple leg fractures and contusions. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. The construction company said it is investigating what caused part of the scaffolding to collapse.

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve seen a number of fatal scaffolding accidents in recent years. According to the Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Project (FACE), the majority of workers who fall to their death in the state do so from scaffolds. In fact, a 29-year-old carpenter died after slipping off a scaffolding platform on an unguarded carpenter’s bracket scaffold. Another Massachusetts man, a 69-year-old mason, fell 20 feet to his death when a plank underneath him slipped.

Source: Scaffolding collapses on construction workers, Norman Transcript, October 20, 2010

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