In the summer months, there are naturally more active construction and demolition sites. With that increased activity, there are also inevitably more accidents.
Just in the last couple of months, there were 2 building collapses at Philadelphia construction sites. The first one was in June where 6 people died and 13 were injured when a four-story building under demolition in Center City, Philadelphia came down on top of a two-story building. *Source: www.cnn.com
The second building collapse happened in July on the campus of Temple University. Fortunately, it was a partial building collapse, and only 1 construction worker was seriously injured. *Source: www.philly.com
As the first building collapse demonstrates, innocent people, other than the workers, can also be seriously injured.
In addition to providing a safe workplace for their workers, construction employers are also responsible for protecting the public from the dangers associated with construction sites. In order to ensure everyone’s safety, OSHA construction and demolition standards must be followed.
Pedestrians walking by construction sites can get hurt by falling debris. Drivers can lose control of their cars if building debris from a demolition falls on their cars resulting in a car crash.
Construction employers are required to follow OSHA’s construction safety standards to ensure the safety of their workers and the public. When there is demolition at a construction site, debris removal is necessary. Often the debris is dropped in a chute. The relevant OSHA standard pertaining to chutes is 1926.852, which provides:
(a) No material shall be dropped to any point lying outside the exterior walls of the structure unless the area is effectively protected.
(b) All materials chutes, or sections thereof, at an angle of more than 45 deg. from the horizontal, shall be entirely enclosed, except for openings equipped with closures at or about floor level for the insertion of materials. The openings shall not exceed 48 inches in height measured along the wall of the chute. At all stories below the top floor, such openings shall be kept closed when not in use.
(c) A substantial gate shall be installed in each chute at or near the discharge end. A competent employee shall be assigned to control the operation of the gate, and the backing and loading of trucks.
(d) When operations are not in progress, the area surrounding the discharge end of a chute shall be securely closed off.
(e) Any chute opening, into which workmen dump debris, shall be protected by a substantial guardrail approximately 42 inches above the floor or other surface on which the men stand to dump the material. Any space between the chute and the edge of openings in the floors through which it passes shall be solidly covered over.
(f) Where the material is dumped from mechanical equipment or wheelbarrows, a securely attached toeboard or bumper, not less than 4 inches thick and 6 inches high, shall be provided at each chute opening.
(g) Chutes shall be designed and constructed of such strength as to eliminate failure due to impact of materials or debris loaded therein.
In addition to using chutes, debris netting may also be erected vertically surrounding the building to enclose falling debris in order to protect pedestrians, cars and other structures nearby from harm.
Construction site accidents do not only injure workers, they also injure pedestrians, car drivers and other innocent bystanders. If you or a loved one was injured by falling debris at a construction site, feel free to call Dan O’Brien, an experienced PA and NJ personal injury lawyer, for a free consultation. Dan is well versed in OSHA standards and will fight to recover the compensation you are entitled to. Call 877.944.8396.