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Worker on scaffolding killed in Midtown construction accident

Construction work in Bergen County intensifies as the cold weather fades to spring's warmer temperatures. Work confined to the indoors for the last several months has moved outside, with jobs that require some workers to scale buildings. Employees working on new projects, renovations and maintenance are back in the danger zone.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found similarities among fatalities caused by occupational scaffolding falls. Some workers don't use fall protection devices, but employers aren't blameless – some don't train workers to use scaffolds properly. A scaffold also can be defective or incorrectly installed.

Officials have not determined why a construction worker plummeted to his death from a scaffold eight stories above a Midtown Manhattan hotel. Witnesses saw the victim fall and land atop another scaffold over the hotel entrance. One observer thought it was unusual that the man seemed to be working alone; she added it wasn't uncommon to see workers on high-rises without harnesses.

The city's Department of Buildings also noticed a problem. The DOB pulled the plug on renovations at the Dream Hotel indefinitely. A citation was issued for failure to safeguard people and property after the Alpha General Contractor employee fell 80 feet to his death.

U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimate 65 percent of all construction workers spend time on scaffolds to do jobs. Each year, about 4,500 construction workers are injured in scaffolding accidents and an average of 60 die. In 72 percent of the accidents, workers slipped, were hit by a falling object or fell when support gave way.

Bergen County workers can do a lot to protect themselves at work when they have the right training and equipment. Lax employer safety policies and poorly installed or manufactured products endanger employees as much as any mistakes construction workers make themselves. Construction accident victims are entitled to file benefits' claims for on-the-job injuries and deaths.

Source: CBS New York, "News Construction Worker Killed In Fall From Scaffolding At Midtown Hotel" No author given, Apr. 02, 2014

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