New York City Department of Buildings officials have been conducting surprise inspections at worksites in a move to tighten their oversight after a recent surge in construction accidents. According to a report in The New York Times, this is coming at a time when New York City is undergoing its biggest building boom in more than half a century.
The inspection squad shows up without warning at construction sites around the city to conduct spot safety checks. This is a new team of inspectors who detect safety violations and promptly cite construction companies or contractors involved. These citations often result in hefty penalties and may even stop work at the site if the violations are serious or pose a safety threat to workers.
Push to Make Worksites Safer
City data show that construction injuries surged by 61 percent to 761 in 2018 from 472 in 2015. Construction-related deaths have remained steady at 12 a year during the same period. Previously, the city had typically sent out building inspectors only for scheduled visits or as a response to accidents and complaints about possible violations. But, the new system is going to be a “game-changer” when it comes to preventing construction accidents, city officials said.
Based on the news report, this is the first time the city has commissioned a unit dedicated to 100 percent proactive visits to larger construction sites, officials said. And so far, they say, it seems to be working. In the first nine months of this year, in the midst of daily surprise inspections, construction accident injuries declined by 26 percent compared to the same period the year before, city statistics show. The main difference between the two years was these surprise visits from inspectors, officials said.
Workers Still in Jeopardy
Despite the safety improvements that these inspections have brought about, construction sites still remain the city’s most dangerous places to work, advocates say, adding that much more needs to be done to prevent construction injuries and fatalities. They say workers are placed in danger because of the lack of coordination among various contractors, time and job pressures that cause companies and contractors to cut corners, and inadequate enforcement of required worker safety training.
Safety advocates say these surprise inspections are a good first step forward, but that they need to happen more frequently in order to make a real difference. The city has been sending out 38 members of this inspection team to areas such as renovations, high-rise construction, scaffolding and demolitions, and hopes to add 15 more inspectors to the team. The team has completed more than 20,000 inspections on 10,256 sites since September 2018, and has issued 11,484 violations, totaling $15 million fines. They issued 2,523 stop-work orders because of dangerous conditions such as missing guardrails and inadequate supervision. In some sites, inspectors issued stop-work orders because they were prevented from entering the site for an inspection.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Construction companies, building owners and managers and contractors have a duty to provide workers with protective gear such as hard hats, harnesses, goggles for eye safety, steel-toed boots and other equipment that helps them stay safe on the job. Companies, business owners and managing agents also have a duty to provide workers with job and safety training in a language they can understand well.
Workers who are injured in construction accidents may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits, which typically cover medical and drug expenses and a portion of lost wages. 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.
If you have suffered injuries 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. 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 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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