Elevator Safety

Elevator-related construction fatalities are increasing, according to a recent report by the Center for Construction Research and Training. The number of construction workers who have died while assembling or disassembling, repairing, maintaining or otherwise working around elevators has doubled between 2003 and 2016, which is the timetable that the report looked at. In 2003, 14 workers were killed. In 2016, 28 died. The peak year for elevator-related fatalities was 2015, when 37 construction workers died.

Causes of Fatal Accidents

The report analyzed the causes of fatalities for the years 2011-2016, when a total of 145 construction workers died. What were they?

  • Falls to lower levels accounted for 53.5 percent of the deaths. In almost half of these fatalities, workers fell from 30 feet or more.
  • Being caught in or compressed by equipment or an object was the second-most common cause of deaths, accounting for 25.7 percent of the fatalities.
  • Other causes included being struck by equipment or objects and electrocution.

These 145 fatalities accounted for 51 percent of such deaths in all industries combined, exemplifying how dangerous the construction industry is for workers. The manufacturing industry came in second for elevator-related fatalities, losing a total of 37 workers. As you can see, construction had nearly four times as many deaths as manufacturing during the same six-year time period.

Non-Fatal Injuries from Elevators

While fatalities related to elevators have increased for construction workers, non-fatal injuries have generally declined between 2003 and 2016. During this period, the high year was 2012, when there were 920 injuries. In 2016, there were 280. However, again, construction leads the way when it comes to dangerous elevator incidents. From 2011-2016, there were 2,410 elevator-related injuries in construction. The retail industry had the second-most number of injuries at 2,010.

Also, for workers who were injured, many of them suffered serious injuries. Nearly half (46 percent) of construction workers with non-fatal injuries needed 31 or more days off work to recover.

Being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects led the way as the cause of construction-worker elevator injuries. Coming in a close second were falls to lower levels.

Preventing Construction-Related Deaths and Injuries

The report concludes that many of the deaths and injuries could have been prevented if safe work practices and procedures and adequate protection had been in place. Why weren’t they in place? That is for investigators to figure out, but the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health provided the following specific recommendations, most of which, according to the report, OSHA already requires of employers.

  • Provide functional personal fall arrest systems.
  • Provide protective equipment and enforce proper use of fall arrest systems.
  • Provide proper equipment for the task.
  • Install safety protection.
  • Provide safety training.
  • Conduct job safety analysis and develop a safety checklist.
  • Designate a competent safety monitor.

Get Help from an Experienced New York Attorney

There is no doubt that by its very nature working in the construction industry around elevators can be dangerous. But when safety regulations are violated, the dangers exponentially increase and workers are more likely to lose their lives or be injured. If you’ve been injured in a construction-related accident, or if a loved one has been killed, we can assist you. Contact the experienced attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC for a free case evaluation.