New State Law to Help Identify Dangerous Construction Work Conditions

A new law in New York will put more responsibility on contractors to report construction accident fatalities to a state registry. All on-the-job construction deaths will be maintained by the registry and will also include demographic data about the victims. According to a report on, New York Senate Bill S1302, which was signed into law on Feb. 16, modifies prior language about workers to include direct employees, contracted employees, subcontracted employees, independent contractors, temporary workers, apprentices, interns, volunteers and other individuals. It also expands the use of the term “contractor” to include a direct employer, contractor or subcontractor.

The Need for This New Law

Democratic State Senator Jessica Ramos sponsored the bill. The text submitted with the bill highlights how the definition of workplace fatality differed among the state’s 58 county coroners and medical examiners. The intent of the bill is to record all construction worker fatalities.

Construction deaths accounted for one in five private sector workplace fatalities in 2018. According to Ramos, New York does not keep a centralized record of worker fatalities. The “My Workplace Fatalities Registry Bill,” Ramos said, will hopefully help fix that problem and identify dangerous working conditions in workplaces that lead to these tragedies.

What Does the Law Require?

This legislation requires all coroners and medical examiners to report construction accident fatalities within 72 hours to New York State’s Department of Labor (DOL), which is tasked with maintaining the registry. Once that information is logged, DOL is to request more information from contractors about the death include the victim’s age, ethnicity, nationality, immigration and union status and the craft or trade of the worker.

DOL may also seek information about whether criminal or civil charges have been filed against the contractor in connection with the worker’s death. Contractors have 90 days to respond to questions. If they fail to respond they could face penalties ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 per occurrence.

How This Law Can Help

This legislation is a long time coming and will be of immense value. Despite the amount of construction activity that has existed in New York State, this is the first time a state law has been drafted to provide deeper insight into construction accidents so they may be prevented in the future. With this type of centralized information, it is easier for the Department of Labor to spot trends and patterns and put regulations and enforcement methods in place to better promote construction site safety.

It is also significant that this database will make public not just the fact that a construction-related fatality occurred but the details regarding that accident as well. When that happens, construction workers and other industry stakeholders are in a better position to gauge a contractor’s safety performance. This new law coincides with a renewed push for construction safety in New York City. The New York City Department of Buildings recently announced a “safety blitz” and inspection sweeps at more than 1,100 buildings in the city with facade repair work permits to help prevent scaffolding-related injuries and deaths after a fatality last summer.

Know Your Rights

Workers who have been injured in a construction accident can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. In addition, workers and their families may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for substantial money damages against a number of parties, and thus have two sources of compensation.

Third-party claims are filed against parties other than the employer or co-employees and may include 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.

Workers should receive job training and safety training in a language they can understand well. In addition, workers should be provided with the right equipment and gear such as hard hats, safety goggles, steel-toed boots, face shields, fall safety devices (harnesses, safety nets, etc.) so they can do their jobs safely. We see many on-the-job injuries involving demolition work, pointing work, use of scaffolds or ladders, or even due to hand rail and net collapse. Workers also tend to suffer severe eye injuries from not being given goggles.

Contacting a Construction Accident Lawyer

Workers in New York are protected under federal, state and city laws. Therefore, a worker who suffers an injury, say due to a fall from a ladder may be able to seek compensation from several responsible parties including but not limited to the general contractor, a sub-contractor, building owner, developer, the manufacturer of a defective ladder, etc.

If you have suffered injuries in a construction-related 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. Our law firm also recovered $3,000,000 for a man who fell and suffered two broken legs when he walked into an open elevator shaft. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

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.

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