Machine malfunction.

Machine Malfunction Kills Brooklyn Construction Worker

According to OSHA, 4,821 workers were killed on the job in 2014. This number equates to 3.4 people per 100,000 full-time workers, and averages out to approximately 92 a week. That’s an average of 13 deaths per day. 17% of these deaths involved contractors- a testament to a well-known truth: construction sites are hazardous, high-danger areas.

In October, this concept was born out when a construction worker was killed at a downtown Brooklyn work site. It was an afternoon like many others, at a job site on Bond Street, when a piece of machinery snapped and struck a construction worker in the head, killing him.

The malfunctioning piece of equipment in question was a pile drilling machine. According to Wikipedia, “a pile driver is a mechanical device used to drive piles (poles) into soil to provide foundation support for buildings or other structures.” Traditionally, heavy weights are lifted using hydraulics, steam, diesel or manual labor, are then held between guides above a pile, before being released, smashing the pile from above and driving it into the ground.

At some point, a shackle broke from the frame of this pile driving machine in Brooklyn and lashed out with lethal force. The victim was knocked immediately unconscious, and later declared dead at the scene.
A security guard testified to the fact that there was a machine malfunction and that the accident was not caused by human error.

Broadway Construction Group, the general contractor on the job, could not be reached for comment.

When incidents such as this one occur, it’s important to reflect on the crucial importance of job site safety and to reacquaint ourselves with the protocol designed to keep employees safe.


The “Fatal Four”

According to the OSHA website, the industry term for the four most commonly-occurring lethal work site injuries is “the Fatal Four.” These injuries are:

  • Fall from height. (Falls account for a full 39% of workplace injuries, making them the most lethal category of workplace accidents.)
  • Electrocution. (Learn more about the proper safeguarding of electrical components here.)
  • Caught-between.” (This includes workers being trapped between vehicles, inside moving pieces of machinery, or under collapsed architecture.)
  • Struck by object. (Sometimes, loose debris or tools are shaken or blown from high areas on construction sites. Remember, wearing a hard hat and other safety equipment is of paramount importance whenever you are on a construction site.)

Safeguarding Mechanical Equipment

What follows is a summary from the OSHA website, outlining ways in which construction site overseers and managers can safeguard their equipment so as to prevent machinery malfunctions and avoid injuries. Adhering to these steps will greatly reduce the likelihood of accidents:

  • Prevent contact: You must create barriers between the hands, limbs and other parts of a worker’s body and any dangerous moving machine parts.
  • Secure: This barrier should be secure. Loose or removable barriers will allow for contact between workers and machines. These safeguards should be thoroughly tested and should be able to withstand the rigors of daily use.
  • Protect from falling objects: It’s important to shield the top portion of any fast-moving machine part, since even a small item that hits a whirring belt can easily become a lethal projectile.
  • Create no new hazards: The safeguard itself should be smooth, resistant to vibration or loosening, and clean. If a worker is liable to injure themselves on the safeguard itself, then its purpose has been self-negated.
  • Create no interference: The safeguard should not impede with the efficient and proper utilization of the machine itself. If the addition of a safeguard forces the worker to interact with a machine in a way that contradicts with the factory-mandated suggested use, it becomes a hazard in and of itself.
  • Allow safe lubrication: Ideally, workers should be able to apply lubrication to the machine without being required to remove or adjust the safeguard.
  • End Result: If a worker no longer has to worry about being injured by the machines they work with, they will be able to work with greater speed, confidence and efficiency!

Kaplan Lawyers PC

At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we keep the interests of New York workers close to heart. From large cities to smaller towns, construction workers build the framework of our communities. When an accident occurs, it’s vital to protect the livelihoods of these skilled men and women. If you or a loved one has been injured in an on-site construction accident, then you deserve to be compensated. Compensations keeps families financially secure while the injured party recuperates. In some cases, filing for workers’ compensation benefits may be an available option. To learn more about your rights, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC today. Our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys are ready and eager to begin fighting for you.
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