In the construction industry, the importance of training is often overlooked. Whether youre a carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc., no matter what your level of experience might be, you should insist that you get the proper training for the equipment you are asked to use. All too often, serious workplace injuries occur because workers fear asking for the appropriate safe guards, and because construction companies and project engineers assume that workers already know how to safely operate the equipment and thus, do not address this issue.
For example the case of man named Albert (not his real name), whose case our firm brought to trial. At age 29, Albert already had a considerable amount of experience as a plumber when he took a new job that required him to install ceiling pipes in a building in Manhattan. In order to reach the 20-foot ceilings he had to stand on a “lift” (a manual crank device) provided by the construction company in charge of the project. When in use, a lift of this kind should only be operated with the support of outriggers. (Outriggers are legs that provide stability for the raised lift.) Unfortunately for Albert, the lift he was working on had no outriggers, and while drilling, his drill struck a steel reinforcement bar that was embedded in the concrete. The drill twisted violently and Albert and the entire lift were brought down to the ground. Albert sustained terrible injuries from this accident including torn wrists tendons, shoulder damage, nerve damage, a fracture to his head, and an arm injury that required elbow replacement surgery. He can no longer work as a plumber, and has endured terrible pain and suffering.
New York workers compensation, trial law firm of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, P.C. was able to prove that the construction company was at fault because they failed in their duty to furnish Albert with the proper safety instructions on how to use the outriggers. Had they done so, the lift would have been properly supported and would have been able to withstand the force of the drill hitting the steel beam. That litigation eventually settled for a substantial sum. However, if you ask Albert, who now lives with permanent arthritis in his joints, he would tell you that he would rather have his health back.