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Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Construction Accident

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roofers are the most at risk of fallingTwo weeks ago a 45 year old construction worker  died after he fell from a roof in Troy, NY. The worker sustained serious injury and was pronounced dead upon his arrival to the hospital. (read more here)

Roofer is one of the most dangerous job in the US

Roofers are the construction workers that are the most at risk of dying in a fall accident.  According to previous statistics between  35 and 40 roofers out of 100,000 die every year in fall accidents. This is 10 times the rate of fatality of the construction industry globally. 75% of roofing fatalities are caused by falls.  Falls are often deadly but when they are not, injuries can be devastating and sometimes result in lifelong disabilities. Traumatic Brain injury is one of the most common injury sustain by roofers in fall accidents. Broken bone injuries can also occur depending on how the worker lands. Broken spine, broken neck, arms, and ribs are the most common as well as broken knees, ankles and feet.

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11 construction workers died and 586 were injured on the job in New York City last year according to statistics from the NYC Department of Buildings.  Half of the fatalities occurred in Manhattan, 2 in Brooklyn, 2 in Queens and one in the Bronx. No fatalities were reported in Staten Island.  12 construction workers died yearly during the 4 previous years. When looking at these numbers it is important to keep in mind that the NYC Department of Buildings has very narrow criteria to count construction fatalities in the city and an estimated one third of the construction deaths recorded by OSHA in New York City dot not appear in the DOT stats.

Construction accident fatalities NYC 2019
The number of workers injured in construction accidents in New York City last year declined compared to the 3 previous years but was higher than in 2015. 586 construction workers sustained injuries on construction sites in the city last year compared to 761 in 2018, 666 in 2017, 599 in 2016 and 472 in 2015 according to the DOT statistics. Most accidents occurred on Manhattan construction sites followed by Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. The monthly number of hard hats injured on the job reached a peak in August at 62 and were above 50 during the warm season in May, June, July and September. During all other months of 2019 the number of injuries recorded on NYC construction sites in 2019 was below 50. This is quite an improvement compared to the year before during which injuries almost reached 100 in May and were above 50 every month except for November and December.

onstruction accident injuries in 2019 in New York
Manhattan Construction accident deaths and injuries are still on a rising trend despite a decline in both deaths and injuries last year.  4 construction workers died in Manhattan during the 3 month period of April, May and June and 2 others in October. July and August had the highest number of injuries with 38 workers injured in July and 34 in August.

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Construction-workers-injuries-preventionSafety on construction sites is not only about preventing accidents but also about keeping construction workers healthy and preventing injuries.

Because of the nature of the tasks they perform on a daily basis, construction workers are at a high risk of developing work-related muskuloskeletal disorders (WMSDs) also known as soft tissues injuries.

Keeping  a worker free from injuries is a win win situation for both the employer and the worker

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construction workers65 construction workers died from unintentional overdose while on the job in the US in 2018 compared to respectively 48, 32, 27, 18, 17, 7 and 7 in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. These deaths represent more than a quarter of the 305 overdose fatalities at workplaces recorded for all industries in the US in 2018. The construction industry is one of the most affected industries by the opioid crisis in the US.

In its recently published Quarterly Data Report, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) provides an in-depth analysis of the dramatic increase of unintentional overdose fatalities on american construction sites.

HIGH NUMBER OF UNINTENTIONAL OVERDOSE FATALITIES ON CONSTRUCTION SITES IN THE NORTH EAST REGION

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A welder died and another construction worker was seriously injured after a building collapsed on a NYC construction site yesterday.

50 year old David Johnson, a father of two daughters going to college, was working on the demolition of a building located at 147-05 94th Ave in Jamaica, Queens, when the second floor where he was standing collapsed.  Johnson and another unidentified worker were buried in the debris. When firefighters arrived, the condition were so bad that they had to use ladder trucks to free the victims. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Hi co-worker was transported to the hospital with critical injury.

Johnson was an unionized welder with Local 79.  He took the job at the non unionized  demolition site run by the general contractor Cole Partners Inc because it was hard for him to find work. Before the accident, Leslie White, another member of Local 79 who worked as a safety supervisor on another site told him the day before “that thing is going to collapse”. Johnson told her not to worry.

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Hard-Rock-Hotel-construction-accident-e1582228604154The crane accident that killed 4 people at a Google office project in Seattle and the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel project that resulted in 3 deaths were among the most horrendous construction accidents that occur last year in the US.  While these major tragedies were all over the news, crane accidents and partial building collapses occurred all over the country last year.  A partial collapse of a building in Cinicinnati, a crane collapse in Dallas. Most big cities in the US  had similar tragedies including New York. Last August one man died and five were injured in a building collapse (see previous blog). A crane company was temporarily banned from the city after two consecutive crane accidents including one resulting in the death of a construction worker (see previous blog).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 175 people are injured in crane accidents and 44 die on average every year in the US

Most crane accidents are caused by human errors. Many of them such as the one that occurred at the Google site in Seattle or the one that killed a worker in New York occur during the  assembling or the disassembling of the crane.  The assembly/dissassembly director is in charge of making sure that the manufacturer guidelines and all safety procedures are followed during this dangerous operation. While OSHA introduced new regulations last April, these regulations are mostly related to improving crane operator’s knowledge and training.

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cell-phone-on-construction-siteCell phone usage on construction sites may increases the risk of accidents. While there are no specific rules when it comes to cellphone usage on a construction site, it is the employer’s responsibility to keep employees safe and to train them about cell phone usage while working on an active construction site.

Headphones are not OSHA approved ear protective devices

While OSHA requires construction workers to use ear protective devices when the noise on a site exceeeds permissible noise exposure limits, they are not talking about headphones or earbuds. While some manufacturers are advertising that their headphones are OSHA approved or OSHA compliant,  OSHA warned in a recent letter that these claims are misleading.  Listening to music when working on an active construction site covers environmental sounds and increases the risk for construction workers to be struck by hazards while performing their work.

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IMG_3253-e1580916956170Two years ago, Harry Ramnauh was crushed to death by a glass panel at a Manhattan construction site. He was a security guard at the construction site of the $3 billion Luxury Central Park Tower which when completed will be the tallest residential building in the world. Reaching 112 floors and a height of 1,550 feet, it is also the most expensive development in New York City. Apartments are listed at up to $63 million with a total projected sellout of $4 billion. (see building under construction on the right side of the picture)

Contractor argues that “failure to safeguard the public” doesn’t apply because the victim was a worker

After the death of the security guard, The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) issued several citations to Lendlease, the general contractor for the construction of the residential tower.  Lendlease successfully fought most of the violations and recently filed another petition against the DOB and the Office of Administration Trials and Hearings  arguing that one of the citations, “failure to safeguard the public during construction”, doesn’t apply to the case because the victim was not a member of the public but a worker at the construction site. Lendlease also argues that the violation was issued based on an inspection that occurred 3 days after the accident and therefore it didn’t reflect the conditions at the time of the fatal construction accident.

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2 construction workers died after a trench collapsed in Long Island, NY. The two men were installing a septic tank for a private home located on Wolver Hollow Road in Brookville. They were 30 feet down at the bottom of the excavated area when one of the walls collapsed. Dirt and sand quickly covered the two men. First responders rushed to the rescue. They were able to recover one of the worker who was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. As they were digging with their hands and shovels to search for the second worker, another wall started to give way. Rescuers had to promptly exit and the wall had to be secured until the search for the other man could continue.  His body was finally recovered.  The workers whose identity has not been released were 45 and 57 year old. Read more on the ABC website .

https://www.newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneysblog.com/files/2020/01/1200px-Excavation_for_installation_of_light_towers_at_the_under_construction_Mid-Day_Storage_Yard_in_Queens._CQ033_9-8-2017_37101223191.jpgExcavation is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry. In 2018, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation in order to reduce the number of injuries and deaths related to this activity. This emphasis program was launched after a recent surge of fatalities and serious injuries related to trenching and excavating. In the fourth quarter of 2019, a contractor who failed to adequately protect his employees during excavation work was slapped with a $161,771 OSHA fine. This fine was among the top 5 highest OSHA fines for the last quarter of 2019. Thankfully nobody was injured but OSHA inspectors found out that the contractor was violating several safety requirements related to excavating work such as not having a competent person conducting regular inspections of the excavation or letting workers continue to work  in an excavation that he knew was unsafe.

In 2017, an unlicensed New York contractor was criminally charged with manslaughter after a wall collapsed on his construction site killing 18 year old Fernando Vanegaz and injuring two of his colleagues (see previous blog)

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geograph-4749794-by-John-BakerIn the aftermath of the tragic construction accident that killed Segundo Huerta and injured 5 other workers on a Bronx site in August last year (see previous blog), the NYC Department of Buildings recently released a notice to remind special inspectors, construction superintendents, design professionals, and permit holders about the requirements related to cold-formed steel light-frame construction in New York City.

Cold form steel framing is often used in low rise and mid-rise building projects. It refers to the structural frame that creates the form and support to the building.  While erecting such structures, clear procedures including properly bracing loading decks, or avoiding overloading floors with temporary construction loads must be followed to prevent collapse.

The NYC Building Code has specific regulations and requirements related to cold form steel framing. Last month, the DOB issued a service notice reminding construction professionals about it. Here are some of the main points: