Scaffolding

A Scaffold Falls in Brooklyn

The weather this winter has been unpredictable. Over the past couple of weeks, New York City citizens have seen temperatures alternate between balmy highs and frigid lows. Oftentimes, low temperatures bring fierce winter winds along with them. During this most recent cold snap, winds hit dangerously high speeds. Authorities are attributing a recent scaffolding collapse in Brooklyn to these high-force winds.

Residents noted seeing an unhinged scaffolding dangling precariously from the top of a vacant building on Pearl Street in Brooklyn, right down the street from the Brooklyn Bridge. Inspectors from the Department of Buildings were called to the scene. They arrived with a crane and rope, in order to securely fasten the scaffolding while they worked on a plan to remove the loosened structure fully. Sometimes, it’s best to wait until bad weather dies down before attempting to remove heavy equipment and structural support systems, lest further accidents occur.

No injuries were reported.

Nearby streets, including the Sand Street entrance to the bridge, were closed temporarily, as a provisional measure. Motorists and pedestrians should hold off on complaining- a scaffolding dangling from great heights is extraordinarily dangerous. Anyone caught underneath scaffolding in such a condition is exposing themselves to the possibility of serious injury.

 

A History of Wind and Scaffolding

It may seem obvious that windy weather would have a negative effect on construction projects. When it comes to scaffolding, however, the causes behind the danger are complex. Scaffolding, built to sustain the vertical load of both construction workers and their supplies, are not designed for significant horizontal pressures. Wind represents a force adversative to the general design strengths of scaffolding.

You’ve probably seen tall, vertical structures, such as antenna towers, anchored to the ground with supporting cables. Using cables like these for support, which run triangularly downwards, is called “guying.” Scaffolding should be guyed, adequately tied down or affixed with counterweights so as to ensure safety.

Winds may also create negative pressure, that can rip scaffolding away from the building or structure that it’s servicing. In brief, there are no shortage of angles which architects must consider and accidents they should anticipate when drafting up and implementing scaffolding.

Workers often also use scaffolding as a platform on which they store their equipment. Paint cans, hammers, and other heavy materials are increasingly prone to blow off of scaffolding as wind speeds increase. Falling objects, of course, are hugely dangerous for ground-level construction workers and pedestrian passers-by alike. This is just one more danger intrinsic to the use of scaffolding.

Scaffolding’s purpose is to help workers create and repair. Without proper foresight and vigilance, these integral tools can cause untold damage and harm.

 

Scaffolding Law in NYC

New York State has a very specific law regarding scaffolding, appropriately named The Scaffold Law, (NYS Labor Law sections 240/241.) This bylaw places a comparatively high burden of liability on the contractors and property owners, when accidents involving elevation-related injuries occur. Most scaffolding injuries fall under the umbrella of these laws. Even if a construction worker forewent the use of safety equipment or is accused of gross negligence as is subsequently injured, more often than not it is the overseer or foreman likely to shoulder the majority of blame. In construction, maintenance, demolition or renovation scenarios, wherein a fall from height, or other elevation-related injury has occurred, “absolute liability” may be invoked under the NYS Scaffold Law.

Due to the unique nature of the laws surrounding scaffolding, lawsuits involving these types of accidents have skyrocketed over the past two decades. Despite the fact that scaffolding-related injuries have been decreasing overall, lawsuits featuring injuries of this kind have experienced a significant, steady increase in popularity over the years.

 

Kaplan Lawyers PC

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a scaffolding accident, it is important you retain the counsel of a law firm well-versed in the aforementioned Scaffold Law. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we understand the intricacies of these regulations, but also know how complicated even the most straightforward-seeming accident cases can be. When you’ve been injured, it’s important you enlist the services of a law firm dedicated to the task of seeing your case through to its end. Too often, otherwise winnable cases are forfeited by firms not willing to fight wholeheartedly for their clients. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we care about the people we represent. We’ll help analyze the facts of your incident and will build a strong foundation for your case. For more information, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started.