The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) issued 23 percent more stop-work orders between January and June this year than it did during the same period last year, according to the website ConstructionDive.com. This year the DOB has issued 4,580 stop-work orders at construction sites compared to 3,738 during the same time period in 2015. Based on the report, missing guardrails and exposed holes got the most stop orders. DOB officials said these stop-work orders are important tools in their arsenal to ensure workers’ safety. However critics say city inspectors have been “too quick” to shut down construction sites and that there are no written guidelines to explain why the actions were taken.
Increase in Construction Accidents
The Department of Buildings has taken a number of actions including hiring 100 more employees, raising some penalties for violations, increasing inspection activity for contractors with unsafe histories and also requiring more supervision on low-rise buildings. With the construction boom in New York City, the DOB reported late last year that Manhattan’s construction-related fatalities have spiked. It almost doubled between June 2014 and June 2015, jumping from six to 11.
There have been 16 construction accident fatalities in New York City during last year. This number includes the pedestrian who was killed in a February crane collapse in Tribeca. After that incident, the city launched a crane safety initiative that included increased fines for violations. We’ve also saw the tragic death of a 22-year-old immigrant worker in April 2015 in a trench collapse as well as a number of fatalities caused by lack of fall safety measures. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office also formed a construction fraud task force to catch corruption and unsafe practices among construction companies.
Common Violations at Construction Sites
The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the New York City Department of Buildings require construction companies and contractors to provide safe working conditions for workers. Their safety requirements include use of protective equipment such as hard hats and eye protection, standards for equipment and machinery, fall safety devices such as harnesses and guardrails and safeguards to prevent scaffolding accidents. Some of the most common violations include:
• Failure to install guardrails to prevent worker slip and fall accidents.
• Not properly covering up holes that may lead to fatal falls in the worksite.
• Failure to ground power lines that may lead to electrocution. Construction companies are required to ensure that all such lines are de-energized and grounded.
• When companies fail to properly brace or ventilate trenches, workers face serious injury risk.
• Failure to provide workers with fall safety harnesses or safety nets.
When DOB inspectors spot these types of violations, they issue stop work orders, particularly if the violation has resulted in an injury or death. Cracking down on these types of violations helps keep workers safe. It prevents contractors and construction companies from taking shortcuts that may prove lethal for workers.
Construction Injuries and Damages
Construction accidents often result in serious injuries and/or fatalities. These workers not only do their jobs at heights, but also work with heavy equipment that may crush them or pose struck-by hazards. Some of the most common injuries sustained in construction accidents include head injuries, spinal cord trauma, broken bones, amputations and internal organ damage. A number of construction workers lose a significant portion of their incomes because they are unable to return to work until their injuries are healed. Some suffer catastrophic injuries, which means they may never able to return to work or earn a livelihood.
Injured victims of construction accidents can seek damages for the losses they have suffered by filing a workers’ compensation claim. In addition, workers may be able to file a third-party claim for significant money damages against a party other than the employer and have two sources of compensation available to them. Examples of third parties include, but are not limited to, general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, property owners and/or property managers, etc.
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 cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously 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
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com
If you found this article useful, please share it!