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Elevators pose danger for construction workers

As a New York construction worker, the elevators at many of your job sites are themselves still under construction. Consequently, whether or not your job actually includes working on or in elevators, you likely must work near them. This puts you at high risk for sustaining an elevator-related accident.

Unfortunately, 31 people die each year in the nation’s more than 17,000 elevator accidents. Construction workers comprise roughly half of these fatalities. A full 33 percent of all construction fatalities result from an elevator accident.

Elevator accident statistics

Three main causes account for the vast majority of construction site elevator accidents as follows:

  1. The worker falls into and down the elevator shaft – 56 percent
  2. The worker becomes caught in and/or between the moving parts of the elevator – 18 percent
  3. The worker gets hit by one or more of the elevator’s counterweights – 16 percent

Over the course of a recent 17-year period, 263 construction workers died in an elevator accident. Of these, 110 worked as elevator installers and repairmen, 107 worked on various jobs near elevators, and 46 worked in either the elevator car or its shaft.

With regard to the 107 workers who died while working near an elevator, half of the elevators and their shafts were either improperly guarded or not at all. The other 50 percent of workers died while engaged in activities such as the following:

  • Repairing a stalled or stuck elevator
  • Cleaning the elevator shaft
  • Retrieving a tool or something else that had fallen into the elevator shaft
  • Performing a job while standing on the above-shaft platform which gave way

Any time you have to work on or near an elevator as part of your construction job, you should exercise extreme caution. Given that many of New York’s buildings contain multiple stories, falling into an open elevator shaft could injure you catastrophically or even kill you.