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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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6 hard hats were injured on construction sites in New York City during the month of April compared to 47 a month earlier and 44 in April 2019. 4 workers were injured on Bronx construction sites and 2 of them on Brooklyn sites. 4 workers suffered minor injuries and 2 others who were injured by a plywood piece  on a windy day, required hospitalization. No fatalities were reported to the DOB during the month of April. The significant decline in construction accident injuries in the city is related to the Covid-19 restrictions that allowed only essential construction sites to be open during the month of April.

Construction Accident Injuries NYC April 2020
In one of the accidents a plumber accidentally screwed his own finger during a plumbing operation. He suffered a cut and was treated at an emergency room. He was then released in stable condition. While the DOB determined that the accident was caused by the worker’s error, inspectors found several safety violations at the construction site located on 1325 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx and issued several citations including: failure to maintain vertical netting, failure to maintain the site clean, failure to provide covers for holes on the floor, failure to protect an elevator shaft opening, failure to install a handrail system on stairways as well as failure to notify the DOB of a change of site safety manager. A partial stop work order was issued.

In an other accident, also in the Bronx, a worker suffered muscle cramps after another worker with whom he was carrying a PVC pipe suddenly put his end down.

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building-before-the-collapseA gym employee miraculously only suffered minor injuries in a building collapse in New York City. The accident occurred last week. The building was under construction for renovations. Last November building inspectors issued 3 violations for “structural cracks and bulging exterior masonry wall”. At the time of the collapse these violations were still open. Additionally, a partial stop work order was issued on June 10 for the same masonry brick wall bulging on the sidewalk with no protection erected around it.

The 3 story building located at the corner of Court Street and Union Street in Carroll Gardens was the home of Body Elite Gym. After the stop order was issued in June, the owners of the gym posted a picture of scaffolding on the sidewalk mentioning the gym was getting an exterior make over and they were looking forward to reopen after the lock-down. The gym was refurbished last year with new equipment.

The building was built 120 years ago according to public records. It was hosting a popular pool hall in the 1960ies. A neighbor who talked to the Daily News said that the building always had a bulge and that he found that very strange.  Complaints of structural instabilities have been filed with the DOB for years.

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excavation work in NYC streetsToo many construction workers are still being injured or dying while working in trenches or excavations. A new video by OSHA on excavation and trenching safety looks at previous violations and how to prevent them.

While doing excavation, construction workers are facing multiple hazards. Cave in hazard is the most dangerous one.  Unfortunately  many construction workers are injured or die in trenches because of negligence. Failure to respect excavation requirements is the 6th most common violation in the construction industry behind fall protection (general requirement), scaffolding, ladders, fall protection training and eye and face protection.

While looking at violations related to excavation and trenching the most common one is failure to protect employees in excavations with 809 citations in 2019. OSHA requires employers to set up specific protective systems such as shoring for workers in excavations however too many employers are still cutting corners as the high number of violations demonstrates.

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construction site NYIn NY State,  it is the responsibility of the contractor and/or of  the owner of the construction site to make sure their construction workers are safe at work.

In addition to the usual safety guidelines, contractors now have to make sure their employees are adequately protected  from getting infected by the coronavirus.  A recent article in the Commercial Observer looked at the challenges faced by New York construction sites one week after their phase 1 reopening.

The new Covid-19 health protocols are creating challenges for both employers and employees on New York construction sites

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construction sites are reopening in NYCNow that the construction industry is restarting in most of the country, some contractors are using the help and advice of medical professionals. to keep the deadly virus out of their job sites. Medical consultants are being hired to make sure the new Covid-19 safety guidelines are applied proprely and health and safety staff are being seen on job sites screening construction workers temperature.  Industrial hygienists are being hired to work on safety protocols. Infectious disease experts are providing consulting to construction companies with large amounts of workers to make sure they get advice on proper infection control practices across construction sites such as  installation of washing stations, cleaning, new protocol with food vendors, proper face covering and contact tracing procedures.  Many large contractors have also created their own Response Team in charge of working with medical experts to make sure recommendations are proprely implemented. They also try to hire health care providers with pandemic preparedness background to join theses teams on a full time basis. However because of the actual shortage of healthcare providers these positions are difficult to fill.

In New York, employers are responsible for the safety of their construction workers. A large contractor not only consulted with medical professionals for its construction sites but also for its corporate offices. The contractor uses automatic temperature checking stations, barriers between open offices as well as staggered start times with rotation schedules for their employees. The flow of offices has been re-designed to one way. Employees received personal lunch kits, and silver defender virus-killing tape was applied on door handles, coffee stations and copy machines.  Additionally the marketing team of the company has been creating various videos to proprely train employees on how to access their job sites or their office, how to behave on the jobs site and in offices, how to socially distance while at work as well as how to use sanitation and cleaning.

Read more in Construction Dive

 

 

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construction sites nycConstruction workers are going back to wok at 33,556 non-essential construction sites today as New York City enters phase 1 of NY State re-opening plan.  To prevent workers from getting contaminated by the coronavirus, any employer hiring workers for a a construction site requiring permits from the DOB or otherwise regulated by the NYC Construction Codes and the NYC Electrical Code must comply with the Interim Guidance for Construction Activities during the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency.

To make sure construction workers are adequately protected, DOB inspectors will conduct safety inspection sweeps  and periodic checks of NYC construction sites.

In New York State, the general contractor and/or the owner of the construction site are responsible for the safety of their employees and, in addition to the regular safety guidelines applicable on construction sites, they now will have to make sure that:

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construction site NYAs New York construction workers are gradually heading back to work, OSHA only provided minimal  “safety guidance” in regards to Covid-19 safety and it is mostly up to the construction companies to create their own Covid-19 safety rules to protect construction workers from contracting the Coronaivirus.

In a recent article, The New Yorker followed Putrelo Building Enterprises, a small family construction business in the Mohawk Valley, in their efforts to re-open their business while making sure their employees are safe.  As they were looking at re-opening, the Putrelos realized that no Covid-19 related protocol was in place in regards to construction workers safety  and that OSHA guidance was so minimal that it was mostly up to them to make sure that their employees were protected from Covid-19 as they restarted work.

The construction company created its own safety protocols

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construction worker using laptopWith the Coronavirus pandemic, the construction industry is adopting new technologies to make sure workers are protected.Remote monitoring, online inspections and video conferencing are becoming more and more common on construction sites and governmental entities are considering technologies that give them the option to conduct virtual inspections.

Because the cost of labor is cheaper in the US than in Europe, American construction sites have not relayed on technology as much as their European or Australian counterparts. However with many construction sites being deemed essential during the Covid-19 crisis, American contractors are now catching up and integrating new technologies that might become the new norm in the future.

Wearable technology can save life

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By the nature of their work, construction workers have a high risk of getting injured in accidents on NYC construction sites. Now many of them are facing another deadly threat as they have recently been asked to return to work after the State expanded the list of “essential building work” from hospitals, affordable housing and infrastructure projects to schools, hotels, restaurants, banks, convenience stores, appliance stores and storage facilities among others as long as ground has already been broken.

As a results thousands of construction sites are kept open in the city putting at risk construction workers and their families to catch the deadly virus.

Profit ahead of safety

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1 worker died and 158 others were injured on construction sites in New York City during the first quarter of 2020  compared to respectively 0 and 137 for the same period of 2019.  When looking at a 5 year period, the first trimester of 2018  was the worst for New York City construction workers with  170 of them sustaining injuries and 3 of them dying in accidents.

Most accidents resulting in injuries occurred in Manhattan  with 96 workers injured, followed by Brooklyn, 35, Queens, 14 and the Bronx, 13. No injuries were reported in Staten Island during the first trimester. With the exception of Staten Island all other boroughs recorded an increase in construction accident injuries during the the first 3 months of this year compared to the same period a year earlier.

NYC Construction Accident Injuries 2020 Q1
Working on construction sites is one of the most dangerous activities in New York and in the US.  The Department of Buildings classify injuries in 6 different categories. The largest category is “Other”. Injuries in this category are usually not life threatening or not critical. Many of them are small cuts and lacerations that do not require ambulance transportation or hospitalization. Most of the time a visit to an emergency call center is sufficient to treat the injury. It is also rare that a safety violation is issued after these types of injuries.  The second largest category of NYC construction accident injuries are  injuries related to falls. Falls often result in serious injuries. An ambulance is often called and workers end up most of the time at the hospital after a fall. Most fall injuries could be prevented if workers were fully protected. During the first quarter of 2020, 45 hart hats were injured in falls in New York. This is the highest number of fall injuries recorded during the first quarter over the last 5 years. Another very common cause of injuries is when material fell onto workers. 12 workers were injured in that manner during the first three months of the year compared to  respectively 22, 21, 23 and 10 during the same period of 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. 6 people were also injured in scaffolds accidents and 2 sustained injuries related to mechanical construction equipment.