Department of Buildings to Sweep NYC Construction Sites

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has announced that it will deploy teams of enforcement inspectors across the five boroughs to perform safety sweeps on the city’s “larger and more complex sites” and ensure the safety of construction workers as well as the public. According to a report in Norwood News, DOB officials said that when they perform these “zero tolerance” sweeps, inspectors will issue enforcement actions if they observe any safety violations and will shut down sites if they find serious safety lapses.

Recent Construction Deaths in NYC

Officials said their inspectors and community engagement teams will also distribute “worker alert” safety information at construction sites on the dangers of falls, which are the leading cause of construction accident deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). DOB officials said that just in the last two weeks, three construction workers lost their lives in separate incidents. They said two of these fatal incidents were the result of falls.

On May 19, one worker was killed and another was seriously injured at a South Bronx construction site after a freight elevator into which they were loading material, fell to the bottom floor. In that case, DOB issued a full Stop Work Order for the entire site and commenced an investigation. Enforcement actions are pending. Data from a DOB report in 2019 shows that 25% of construction-related accidents that year were due to worker falls, while the number of fatalities remained constant at 12 from 2015 to 2019. Construction-related injuries peaked in 2018 at 761, dropping to 595 in 2019.

Stringent Enforcement of Safety Regulations

During the enforcement sweep, DOB inspectors say they will conduct site visits at thousands of construction worksites in neighborhoods across the city. Contractors who are found violating safety regulations could face penalties of up to $25,000 for each violation. DOB officials say inspectors at each site will make sure permitted construction projects are in full compliance with their required site safety plans; confirm that contractors are adhering to the city’s construction safety regulations; check if workers on site are using safety harnesses and fall arrest systems correctly; and distribute “worker alert” safety information on how to prevent construction site falls.

Last month, the DOB announced that five new construction safety bills supported by DOB were introduced for consideration in the New York City Council. If adopted, these bills would significantly improve oversight and accountability on construction sites in the city by licensing general contractors, requiring enhanced site safety supervision especially at larger worksites, strengthening requirements for cold-formed steel construction and permanently banning the dangerous use of stand-off brackets for suspended scaffold work.

Know Your Rights

Workers in New York are protected by New York’s Scaffolding Law (Section 240 of the New York Labor Code), which requires contractors, owners and their agents to be responsible for providing necessary equipment such as scaffolds, ladders, hoists, stays, irons, ropes, blocks braces and other devices to keep workers safe from fall-related accidents. Under this section of the labor code, workers injured in scaffolding accidents have the ability to bring civil actions against the general contractor and property owner, etc. responsible for the safety of the jobsite.

Workers who have been injured in a scaffolding accident can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. In addition, they may be able to file a third-party claim for substantial money damages and thus have two sources of compensation. Such claims are filed against parties other than the employers or co-workers including, but not limited to,
general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, managing agents, construction companies, etc. In cases where a worker dies from injuries suffered on the job, surviving family members may seek death benefits through workers’ compensation and/or file a wrongful death claim against a third party who may be held liable for the fatal incident.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

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