Many construction sites require workers to get to upper floors using elevator hoists. However, construction elevators are too often built without ample attention to worker safety.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we know in many cases these devices receive little or no maintenance throughout the course of a project. Guard rails are installed incorrectly – if they are installed at all. And too often, workers aren’t given necessary training or protective gear to prevent such incidents, or at least lessen the impact.
Consider the recent case of a fatal elevator accident at a Florida State University construction site, where a 25-year-old plumbing and mechanical worker was killed after being struck and crushed by a personnel/material elevator carriage that wasn’t enclosed on all four sides. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration ultimately cited the general contractor, as well as several subcontractors, for a host of serious and willful violations of safety standards. Officials blamed the companies’ inaction and lack of commitment to workplace safety as the catalysts for the tragedy.
Unfortunately, such incidents are not especially isolated, though not all are fatal. Employers are generally immune from litigation by workers, even when the company has been negligent in protecting workers, due to workers’ compensation’s exclusive remedy provisions. However, third-party litigation against other subcontractors, the general contractor, property owner and others are often worth exploring with an experienced personal injury law firm.Workplace Elevator Injuries and Deaths
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are about 30 deaths and 17,000 serious injuries resulting from contact with elevators and escalators every year. Elevators cause about 90 percent of the deaths and more than half of serious injuries.
When it comes to those working on or near elevators – including installing, repairing, maintaining or working in elevator shafts, those incidents accounted for almost half of all annual deaths. Of those who died, about half were the result of falling into the elevator shaft. Other potential causes included incidents in which workers were caught in between moving parts of the elevators, where elevators collapsed or where victims were struck by the elevator or counterweights.
Other possible causes of injury include being caught in the doors or other moving parts, electric shock or electrocution and asphyxiation. Elevator repairers and installers in construction had an average death rate of 29.1 for every 100,000 full-time workers, the bureau reported. That’s more than twice the death rate for all construction workers – combined.
Common injuries that stem from elevator accidents in Florida include:
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Facial injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord damage
- Internal injuries
Elevator shafts are large holes, which pose a threat to construction workers who are placed in danger of a steep fall. Most of these involve workers who are actively conducting construction, maintenance or repairs on the device. However, an open elevator shaft that’s unattended with no blockade puts other workers at serious risk of a fall.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) investigates work-related deaths based on Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) reports. One those most recent reports indicated that of those work-related elevator deaths reported:
- 58 percent involved falls down elevator shafts, with nearly half of those occurring during construction or maintenance;
- 16 percent involved being struck by an elevator car or counterweight.
- 9 percent of deaths involved the elevator collapsing with the worker inside or on the platform.
- 7 percent were the result of electrocutions.
- 9 percent cited other causes, such as falling material, explosion or unknown circumstances.
Employers have a duty to ensure those working in or near elevators – temporary or otherwise – have the appropriate training, gear and warning systems to do so safely.
When companies fail to protect workers, our experienced and dedicated team of personal injury attorneys is prepared step in and fight for just compensation for the injured.
Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.
Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation