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Construction Accidents in NYC


New York City has seen a spike in construction accidents in the last few months that are showing a concerning disregard for worksite safety.

On July 12, a construction worker in Morningside Heights was killed when a steel beam fell on him. The beam fell from scaffolding that was being broken down by two of his coworkers from high above where the workers was stationed on a landing below the roof of the building. Workplace negligence is still being explored for this accident.

Back in March, a 34-year-old construction worker was riding on the back of a forklift being driven by a coworker when he hit his head on a low-clearance ceiling beam. Sadly, the construction worker died at the scene of the accident and a violation against the worksite was issued.

What Are OSHA’s Fatal Four Construction Hazards?

• Falls: 384 deaths (38.7%)
• Stuck by Object: 93 deaths (9.4%)
• Electrocutions: 82 deaths (8.3%)
• Caught-In or Between: 72 deaths (7.3%)

When examining fatal construction injuries in 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor contributed 64% of the 991 reported construction worker fatalities to what has been named the ‘Fatal Four’ causes in the industry.

Construction workers go into work every day already at an increased risk of death and injury compared to most other industries. In a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2015, construction employees accounted for only 4% of workers in the country, yet 21% of recorded the occupational deaths!

The most recent construction deaths in NYC all fell under the category of ‘Struck by Object’, the second highest cause of worker construction fatalities- so what could be contributing the continuation of construction fatalities?

Why Do Construction Fatalities Repeatedly Occur?

Heavy machinery, hazardous materials, and extreme heights are several aspects of the construction industry that make these types of jobs more dangerous than others.

Other Common Causes Of Construction Accidents

• Increase in construction jobs and rushed deadlines
• Privately owned worksites (non-union)
• Low fines for construction violations
• Fraudulent trainings that leave workers unprepared for dangers
• Underfunded enforcement agencies unable to visit all worksites at risk of injuries

These factors can severely affect the safety of a worksite, oftentimes allowing for unsafe practices to continue long enough to result in injuries and fatalities. Several laws have been in place in NYC for decades to protect workers from serious and fatal injuries, and new legislation continue to roll out. Yet, some employers continue to neglect their responsibility to supervise all aspects of the job site, keeping safety at a top priority above all else when it comes their workers.

How Employers Can Reduce Construction Accidents

• Fall Protection: Factors involved in falls include unstable working surfaces, failure properly use protective equipment, human error.
• Hazard Communication: Failure to recognize or acknowledge to hazards of working with chemicals that lead to burns, respiratory problems, fires, and explosions.
• Scaffolding: Accidents most often occur when scaffolds are not used or built properly, and items are improperly secured
• Respiratory Protection: Neglecting to use safety equipment or proper safety equipment to avoid respiratory exposure can lead to serious and fatal conditions.
• Control of Hazardous Energy: Not using proper lockout/tagout procedures can lead to horrible accidents when it comes to controlling machines run on electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources.
• Ladders: Using incorrect or unstable ladders for the job and overloading ladders are common causes for injuries.
• Powered Industrial Trucks: Forklift collisions and turnovers are common reasons for fatalities on these machines.
• Machinery and Machine Guarding: Amputations, serious lacerations and fatalities can occur when machines are used improperly or without safety guards.
• Fall Protection (training requirements): Not training employees on how to prevent falls can cause unnecessary accidents.
• Electrical (wiring methods, components and equipment): Using damaged materials, bypassing protective systems and not grounded electrical tools are dangerous practice that can cause accidents.

Regardless of the magnitude of the project, all construction employers have an obligation to protect their employees from unnecessary risks that can cause injuries and fatalities on the job. OSHA lists these hazards as the top 10 standards most frequently cited on construction sites that employees can look out for on the job.

As a construction employee you have a right to a safe worksite. Knowing the federal and state safety requirements for your construction site could be extremely beneficial to your health and safety, and could even prevent the possibility of fatal injuries to others in the future.

Pazer Epstein Jaffe Fein & Gozenput, P.C. Helps Protect NYC Workers’ Rights

Construction workers in New York City have significant protections against negligent employers but they only help if you know your rights. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious construction injury due to negligence of an employer, our winning team is here to fight for you. For over 50 years, Pazer Epstein Jaffe Fein & Gozenput, P.C. has aggressively represented those whose lives have been overturned by injuries due to negligence.

Contact us using our convenient online form or feel free to phone us in New York at 212-227-1212, or in Huntington/Long Island at 631-864-2429.

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