On the morning of April 24, at around 6:45 a.m., a construction worker was performing their job at an NYU Langone Hospital in Manhattan. According to the Daily News, the worker fell down a garbage chute from the upper levels of the building. Fortunately, he survived the fall, and initial reports predict a recovery.
Helicopter footage from CBS showed firefighters escorting the incapacitated worker on a stretcher through the parking lot outside. As CBS states, fire officials pulled the injured worker out of a vent shaft on the fifth floor of the hospital.
Located near East 30th Street and First Ave in Kips Bay, NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital is part of the NYU Langone Health network, which runs facilities throughout the city. This is not the first construction accident within that system: in 2021, a worker tragically died from a fall at an NYU Langone hospital in Midtown.
Potential Causes of the Accident
While the causes of the accident have yet to be determined, several safety regulations may have been lacking that morning. Openings such as garbage chutes pose serious fall risks, particularly for those tasked with working near them. In fact, any unprotected opening can present serious dangers in the workplace. These hazards can be mitigated with some practical safeguards: careful planning, communication and making sure that any workplace openings are marked and obvious to all workers can reduce many of these senseless accidents.
To protect workers from these hazards, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides detailed safeguards specifically for chutes. The chute at NYU Langone could have been a built-in part of the hospital’s architecture, rather than a temporary debris chute that construction workers commonly use for disposal during demolition work. However, this does not mitigate the possibility of workers falling through the opening.
OSHA instructs that guardrails (or similar structures) should always be in place to protect workers from falling down chutes. These need to be approximately 42 inches above the floor. Whenever the chute is not being used, it should be closed off entirely.
OSHA’s fall protection guidelines also mention wall openings such as chutes, mandating guardrails or fall arrest systems whenever the bottom edge of the chute is less than 39 inches above walking level. If the worker was doing construction inside the chute, where guardrails are not applicable, they should have been protected by a properly tied-off harness or safety net.
Having landed on the fifth floor after the fall, the injured worker was clearly working from dangerous heights. The extreme danger associated with those conditions should have been accounted for, and minimized, by work site officials, such as the contractor, subcontractor, property owner, or another party involved in the construction project. If the accident had unfolded in a slightly different way, the worker’s injuries could have easily been more severe, or even fatal. As it stands, this person is already coping with the trauma of the frightening event in addition to their physical injuries. We wish them a fast and complete recovery.
Results Advocating for Construction Workers Injured by Falls
Block O’Toole & Murphy has a history of fighting for injured construction workers that spans decades. For anyone grappling with the aftermath of a serious construction-related accident, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. We are ready to provide proven expertise, skill, and results.
Some examples of compensation we have obtained for clients include:
- $53,500,000 jury verdict for a construction worker paralyzed from a fall during the installation of an air conditioner condenser
- $11,000,000 settlement for a masonry worker who fell through an insufficiently guarded opening
- $9,750,000 settlement for a 42-year-old worker who required several surgeries after falling from a scaffold
- $7,400,000 settlement for a metal sheet worker who fell during a rooftop renovation, injuring his spine
- $6,793,881 jury verdict for a worker at a water treatment plant who was impaled after a fall
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