Façade Work Hazards February 4, 2022
Construction workers have dangerous jobs; according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction has the highest fatality rate of any industry. Façade work, particularly when workers perform it on scaffolding, is especially treacherous. A façade is the exterior face or wall of a building. Workers usually conduct façade work at elevated heights, which creates additional hazards. The majority of the worker injuries and deaths that result from façade work are entirely preventable, but not without taking certain steps to reduce accident rates and keep workers safe.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that falls, slips, and trips are the most frequent type of fatal incident to occur in the construction industry. The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB), which enforces building codes and zoning regulations, recently issued a worker alert promoting safe façade work. The alert addresses fall risks and other dangers associated with façade work, such as:
- Wearing just a harness is not enough to protect workers from major fall risks; they must be tied-off to a secure lifeline for it to work properly. The employer must provide workers with fall protection when they are working on a supported scaffold with no guardrail or on an adjustable suspended scaffold. Employers need to assess each job beforehand in order to establish what type of personal protective equipment (PPE) workers will need
- Be familiar with the equipment. Scaffold work is highly hazardous, so workers must undergo a rigorous scaffold safety training before using the equipment
- Use extreme caution when removing coping stones. Coping stones are flat stones that are used to cap or cover the wall. Do not remove coping stones that are capping free standing walls unless your supervisor advises you to do so
- Secure tarps. Workers needs to secure tarps and other kinds of temporary weather protection at the end of a shift so that they do not become dislodged or come loose. Do not lean any items like debris bags or construction materials against the parapet wall. A parapet wall is a short wall or heavy railing around the edge of a roof, terrace, balcony, or stairway
- Demolish parapet walls from the coping down. Avoid demoing individual masonry blocks or bricks, because the remaining wythes could become unstable. A wythe is a vertical section of bricks or masonry that is one unit thick. Ensure that the remaining parapet walls adjacent to the demolition will not become unstable
- Keep an eye out for loose materials. If you notice that any brickwork is loose, alert your supervisor right away. All tiebacks must be properly anchored as well
- Never work on a suspended scaffold that has a stand-off bracket. A stand-off bracket is a rigid member that extends an assembly and can fail to secure the scaffold adequately
Third-Party Liability: Defective Equipment and Negligent Contractors
Not only is façade work inherently dangerous, other factors also play a significant role in endangering workers. Usually, when a worker gets hurt on the job, he or she files a workers’ compensation claim to recover damages. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers. But in some cases, it is a good idea for an injured worker to file a third-party liability claim in addition to their workers’ compensation claim.
Third party claims are legal claims that the injured individual brings against a third party that was partially or fully at fault for the accident. For example, an employer may bring an outside contractor onto a job site. If that contractor creates dangerous working conditions that contribute to a worker’s injuries, the worker can file a third-party liability claim. Here are a few ways that a contractor can be liable in a construction accident:
- Using subpar construction or scaffolding materials
- Failing to comply with federal and state safety and health regulations
- Failing to warn workers of dangerous work conditions
A manufacturer may also be responsible for a worker’s injuries. Just like employers and third-party contractors are responsible for providing safe and healthful working conditions, manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers must provide safe products. If a scaffold or another kind of industrial equipment causes an injury due to an unsafe design, manufacturing defect, malfunction, or the failure to provide proper instructions and warnings, the victim may have a products liability lawsuit on their hands.
Here are some examples of products liability lawsuits our attorneys have handled in the past:
- Our client was seriously injured when the scaffolding he was working on fell almost ten feet. He suffered a lumbar sprain, strain, and bulging disc. He also developed such a severe fear of heights that he was not able to return to his previous position. Our attorneys filed suit against the scaffold manufacturer and were able to settle the matter for $445,000.00. You can read more about this case here.
- Our 51-year-old client died after he falling from a scaffold that his employer made. The defendant claimed the decedent violated the construction site’s safety rules; our attorneys successfully secured a $900,000.00 verdict in favor of our client’s family after three days of trial. To learn more, click here.
At Galfand Berger, our attorneys are committed to fighting on behalf of injured workers and victims of unsafe construction equipment. If you would like to learn more about filing a claim, contact a representative online now who can help.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you sustained injuries and you would like to pursue a just recovery of damages, contact our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.