Construction Accidents and the New York Labor Law Statutes

Posted by on Jun 28, 2017 in Construction Accidents | 0 comments

One of the greatest challenges that construction firms need to face today is keeping up with the demands of progress, specifically, how to accomplish so much in shorter time periods. With the designs of buildings becoming bigger, taller and more intricate, requiring workers to render longer work periods, however, often ends in situations that post threats to worker health and safety.

According to the Hach and Rose law firm, construction is a necessary but also inherently dangerous industry that can leave workers exposed to a wide variety of construction site accidents and injuries. Any failure on the part of a general contractor, property owner, or machinery manufacturer to make sure that construction sites and construction equipment are safe may result in a devastating accident that causes innocent workers undue injury. In most states in the U.S., construction workers who suffer an injury on the job may not have any legal options available to them outside of pursuing workers’ compensation benefits. However, the state of New York provides further protection for construction workers through certain New York Labor Law statutes, allowing them to pursue compensation from liable property owners or general contractors.

A regular sight in construction areas are heavy machineries, like cranes, concrete mixers, forklifts, bulldozers, loaders, caterpillars, excavators, crawlers and  road rollers. These machineries, undoubtedly, make construction tasks easier and faster to accomplish; however, due to their huge size, wrong operation or requiring an untrained or careless worker to operate any of these can result to a disabling or even fatal injury.

Milwaukee personal injury attorneys know that injuries from construction sites are usually the most serious injury cases. Every year there are thousands of construction accidents that cause serious injury and death. Legally, construction companies are required to provide safety programs and formally inspect work sites with a safety engineer, but, unfortunately, accidents still occur resulting from the inadequacy of these provisions.

The site owners, architects, insurance companies and manufacturers of equipment can all be held responsible for inadequate safety provisions when a construction site accident occurs. In addition, the general contractor and all subcontractors are also required to provide a reasonably safe site, to warn of hazards, to hire careful employees, to coordinate job safety and to supervise safety compliance.

Due to risks of accidents and injuries that construction workers are exposed to every day, the U.S. Congress passed into law (in 1970) the Occupational Safety and Health Act (or OSH Act). The Act aims to:

  • Ensure all working men and women of safe and healthful working conditions;
  • Assist and encourage the States in their efforts in ensuring safe and healthful working conditions;
  • Provide for information, education, research and training in the area of occupational safety and health; and,
  • Authorize enforcement of the standards developed under the Act. Enforcement of these standards has been delegated by OSH Act to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which was created in 1971.

Despite OSHA’s untiring efforts in enforcing health and safety standards in the workplace, however, the U.S. Department of Labor continues to receive reports of injuries and, sometimes, deaths due to accidents. Based on results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, in 2013, fatal work-related accidents totaled to 4,585; in 2014 the number of deaths went up 2%, registering 4,679.

Fatal accidents in construction sites include workers being struck and killed by a forklift or other heavy machineries, being struck by falling objects, electrocution, and falls, which frequently occur while workers are on ladders or scaffoldings.

Work-related accidents resulting to injuries or death entitle workers or their families (in case of worker’s death) to file a claim with their state’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance office. Financial benefits, however, are often too small or delayed, that is if the application for claim is not rejected. Besides these, the Worker’s Comp also restricts injured workers from further pursuing legal action against their employer. Under certain circumstances, however, this Worker’s Comp’s provision may be ruled against by a court, especially in cases where the injury is too severe or is fatal.

 

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The 10 Most Common Workplace Safety Violations

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Workplace Injuries | 0 comments

The workplace is a worker’s second home away from their home. They spend 8 to 9 hours or sometimes even more in the office. For this reason, employees often feel safe at their workplace. However, accidents can happen anytime and the workplace is no exception to the rule. Workplace injuries can strike any employee in the performance of their work. According to the website of The Benton Law Firm, approximately 4,400 workers were killed on the job around the country in 2012. From this number, 20% came from workplace accidents in construction sites.

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that most of the deaths in the construction industry came from falls, object strikes, electrocution, and caught in/between. The OSHA calls them the “Fatal Four.” The agency noted that if risk reduction measures were in place, accidents in construction sites would decrease by 50 percent.

Companies have the responsibility to ensure they adhere to safety standards and make the workplace a safe place to work in for their employees. Unfortunately, a huge number of companies have failed on the aspect of workplace safefty. The OSHA has cited various workplace violatrions which has resulted to the death or injury of workers. Here are 10 of the most frequent workplace safety violations as listed by the OSHA.

1. Fall Protection. Falls is considered as one of the “Fatal Four” causes of workplace accidents. For this reason, they should see to it that they have installed fall protection measures such as harnesses. For elevated job sites, there should be guard rails, toe boards, and safety nets.

2. Hazard Communication. Workers should be properly warned and informed about potential hazards specially the customers who are working on chemicals. This should be indicated in the label or safety data sheet.

3. Scaffolding. In order to complete some tasks, a scaffolding is oftern required. 7 out of 10 accidents happen when the planking or support gives way, workers slip or struck by falling objects.

4. Respiratory Protection. When noxious gases are inhaled, the worker can instantly die or acquire long term diseases. Thus, offices must provide employees with respirators to protect them from harmful dusts, fogs, smoke, gases, vapors, mists, and sprays.

5. Lockout/Tagout. This has sonething to do with the regulation of hazardous sources of energy such as electrical, pneumatic, mechanical, thermal, and chemical. Management must see to it that machines or equipment are diasbled before they are serviced by machine operators and electricians.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks. Employees are at risk of getting injured or killed due to heavy objects flipping over as a result of the weight loaded, falling off of docks, and striking other employees. Management must ensure that the workers who are operating forklifts are trained or certified. Employees who are below 18 years old must not be allowed to operate these machines.

7. Ladders. Maintenance personnel tasked to change a lightbulb are extremely at risk of getting injured due to the ladder’s stability issues or potential for falling. Likeiwse, some employees are required to use tall ladders in awkward locations in the performance of their jobs. Managers should make sure that the ladders the employees are using is structurally sound to suport the weight of the workers and that the rungs are free from slipping hazards such as oil and wet paint.

8. Electrical-Wiring Methods. Electrical work is a hazardous job and while this is applicable only to electricians and other related workers, every employee must be kept safe from wiring hazards. Thus wiring should be carefully installed and should be done by qualified personnel.

9. Machine Guarding. Moving machine components may subject employees to various injuries such as burns, lacerations, crush, amputation of a body part, or worse death. For this reason, it is important that all machines with moving parts, must be safeguarded all he time.

10. Electrical – General Requirements – Although associated with the 8th violation, this safety standard covers all safety regulations for electrical tasks such as PPE, job planning requirements, and circuit exposure.

Workplace injuries can be avoided and reduced as long as management will ensure that the workplace safety aspect is covered and guaranteed.

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