Recent Events Highlight How Dangerous Elevators and Elevator Shafts Can Be for New York City Construction Workers

There are many aspects of construction work in New York City that are particularly dangerous. As recent incidents have shown, work that involves elevators and elevator shafts is one of those areas. Whether it is being struck by a moving elevator, being hurt when an elevator malfunctions and falls or being injured in a fall into an elevator shaft, the potential for serious or even fatal injury is significant. If you’re hurt in one of these kinds of accidents, you may have suffered serious injuries and may have a need for substantial compensation for the harm you suffered. Be sure to retain an experienced New York City construction accident attorney to help you in getting the recovery you need.

In October 2019, another construction accident meant yet another construction death. Although details were sparse in many reports, most reports seemed to agree that a 24-year-old worker was traveling in an elevator of a Manhattan high-rise when he dropped his phone. As the worker moved to retrieve the phone, he fell, tripped or somehow became entangled in some type of material. As NBC New York described it, “he somehow became caught on something.”

The elevator then fell, and the worker slammed into a “saddle,” which is a metal piece that is part of the shaft. The saddle crushed the man and killed him.

Given the sparse details, it is difficult to draw many conclusions, but it is not difficult to see how inadequate safety procedures could have led to a fatal accident like this one. If the deceased worker tripped on construction materials in the elevator, and that was what caused him to lose his balance, it is possible that his death was the result of a safety regulation violation. Relevant safety regulations in New York cover such requirements as, among other things, the obligation for “floors, platforms and similar areas” where work is being done or where worker pass to “be kept free from accumulations of dirt and debris and from scattered tools and materials and from sharp projections.”

If a worker (or a deceased worker’s family) was able to show that the accident occurred, in whole or in part, due to a failure to comply with relevant safety rules, then the family could potentially recover much-needed compensation using a claim for damages under Section 241(6) of New York’s Labor Law.

Back in the spring of 2019, a man working in Brooklyn fell roughly 10 feet when he stepped into a shaft or hole. The injured man was not wearing a harness, and the area did not have guardrails. The accident led to the worker’s hospitalization in critical but stable condition.

In a situation like that, compensation through the courts might be available utilizing a different law. Section 240(1) says that workers must be provided proper safety protections from all elevation-related risks of harm, which includes falls. Certainly a hole deep enough to cause a critical injury in a fall should have necessitated some sort of safeguard, but this worker received the benefit of neither a harness nor guardrails, according to the ABC 7 report.

A worker without a safety line plunges to his death in an elevator shaft

Back in 2018, a worker died when he plunged down an elevator shaft. He was working on the elevator when his fall occurred, and “was not strapped to a safety line” at the time, according to a New York Post report. A union spokesperson lamented the accident as another example of what happens when entities “take shortcuts and don’t provide their workers with the proper equipment” for safety.

Sadly, many of these serious or fatal accidents, upon deeper investigation, reveal cut corners and the bypassing of proper worker safety protections. If you were hurt in New York working construction and your injury was the result of your not getting the safety devices or safeguards you needed to do your job safely, then you may be able to recover significant compensation. Talk to the experienced New York City construction accident attorneys at Arcia & Associates, where our team has many years of handling a wide variety of construction injury cases and are here waiting to go to work for you.

Contact us at (718) 651-4363 to find out how we can help you.