Report Finds NYC Construction Site Inspections Are Inadequate

A new report has found that nearly 90% of active New York City construction sites that were visited by the state comptroller’s office had safety issues and that the city’s Department of Buildings does not effectively prioritize which sites get inspected. According to a article, officials from the New York State Comptroller visited 18 active construction sites last summer and reported 16 of those sites had 77 safety issues.

These problems included not having a site safety manager, missing or incomplete safety logs and daily inspection records, and no documentation of workers completing the required site safety training or attending mandatory safety meetings. In 60% of the cases where hazardous conditions were present for more than 30 days, Department of Buildings did not issue a citation for failing to correct the issue, the report states.

What the Audit and Report Found

DOB officials responded to the report by saying that the onus for safety on construction sites and the responsibility to prevent construction accidents is on contractors and site safety professionals. However, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in the report that the DOB has a responsibility to enforce construction site safety regulations.

The comptroller’s audit identifies a number of situations where DOB did not pursue additional enforcement actions for contractors or building owners such as issuing violations when immediate hazards were not addressed. DiNapoli emphasized that when the DOB is aware of a pattern of non-compliance such as safety problems that go unaddressed, it should escalate enforcement actions. DOB reported 2,003 building construction-related incidents occurred between Jan. 1, 2018 and May 15, 2021. These incidents involved 36 deaths and 2,066 injuries, with 75% of those fatalities occurring in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The report says DOB needs to make more of an effort to ensure that owners, contractors and other responsible parties report all construction accidents and comply with safety codes. The report found DOB’s enforcement activities currently do not address hazardous onsite conditions in a timely manner. The comptroller also says the DOB does not prioritize which sites should be proactively inspected for safety conditions. Typically the agency performed inspections after an incident occurred rather than doing them proactively and preventing tragic accidents and injuries.

Protections Under New York Law

Construction workers in New York are covered by Section 240 of the New York Labor Law, which charges construction companies, contractors and other parties with the responsibility of providing workers with proper fall protection while constructing, demolishing, remodeling or doing other types of work such as roofing on structures. This law assigns strict liability for accidents to the parties responsible for assigning and managing the work.

Therefore, a worker who suffers a fall — including laborers such as ironworkers, steelworkers, carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, painters, masonry and pointing workers, etc. — can seek workers’ compensation benefits from his or her employer.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

A victim who has been injured in a construction accident, in addition to workers’ comp, 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.

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, lead poisoning and medical malpractice cases in New York, 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.

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

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