Q How do elevator accidents occur on construction sites?
The manufacture, installation, and use of elevators is a common part of many high-rise construction projects. Not only are builders responsible for the construction of elevators, but they use industrial elevators daily to get to work locations. These elevators can pose a serious risk of injury or death to construction workers on or near the elevator.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 people are killed and 17,000 people are injured in elevator and escalator accidents every year, with elevator accidents accounting for 90 percent of all deaths and 60 percent of serious injuries. Construction worker deaths account for almost half of all fatalities in elevator accidents. If you are a construction worker who suffered an injury in an elevator accident, you need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
Major Causes of Workplace Elevator Accidents
Workers can be injured while the elevator is being constructed or once it is in operation and being used by construction workers to more easily move between work sites on different floors. In some work sites, a more heavy-duty construction elevator is used during construction. Top reasons that workers suffer injuries or death include:
- Mechanical failure. A mechanical failure of the elevator is a common cause of workplace accidents. Often the defect is in the pulley system, which can result in the elevator falling.
- Falls. According to the CDC, falls into an exposed shaft account for half of construction workers’ deaths. While employers are required to mark and secure an exposed elevator shaft, this is often not done, with workers like you paying the price in an accident.
- Being trapped. Workers can be trapped in a malfunctioning elevator. If they are not freed quickly enough, they can die from asphyxiation or suffer other injuries.
- Improper leveling. When the elevator is not leveled properly, a worker can suffer a deadly slip and fall accident when entering or exiting the elevator.
- Faulty wiring. If the wiring of the elevator was not done properly, it can cause the elevator to malfunction, and workers using it may be injured. Another risk of improper wiring is that workers can suffer an electrical shock or electrocution—sometimes fatal.
- Caught between elevator parts. Workers can be caught between the elevator doors or other parts if they do not work properly. In addition, workers must sometimes climb into the elevator shaft to work on the elevator. If other people do not know they are there, they could use the elevator and trap the worker between the elevator and other objects.
Injuries That Workers Suffer in Elevator Accidents
Employees working near an elevator as well as those working on it or using it can be involved in an accident. Because of the nature of these accidents, workers can suffer catastrophic injuries that can leave them permanently disabled and limit their day-to-day activities. Common injuries caused in these accidents include:
- Neck and back injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury and other brain injuries
- Nerve damage
- Spinal injuries—including partial or complete paralysis
Ways Employers Can Prevent Elevator Accident Injuries and Deaths
As with other types of workplace accidents, elevator accidents are often preventable, making them even more tragic for workers who are killed or suffer debilitating injuries. Ways that employers could keep workers safe include:
- Properly marking and securing an exposed elevator shaft
- Training workers properly about the dangers of elevator work and working near an elevator
- Providing workers with proper safety equipment, including fall protection safety gear
- Implementing a regular elevator inspection and maintenance schedule
- Using only qualified elevator workers to perform repair and maintenance on elevators
- Following manufacturer instructions on the installation and use of the elevator
- Not allowing workers to exceed the maximum load limits of the elevator
Contact My Office If You Suffered Injuries in an Elevator Accident
Did you suffer injuries in an elevator accident on a construction site? You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under New Jersey law to pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, and more. To learn about your legal rights and how I, a workers' compensation attorney, can help you fight for the benefits you deserve, call my office today to schedule your free consultation.