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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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construction is the most dangerous job in NYCMaking sure NYC buildings and construction sites are safe for construction workers, New Yorkers and their visitors, is the big responsibility of the New York City Department of Buildings. However the Department is not always proprely run and corruption scandals are common. The last one is the resignation of its commissioner Eric Ulrich last week, one day after he met with prosecutors from the DA’s office  for an investigation that he might have possible ties with organized crime and illegal gambling (see more in the New York Times). The DOB just announced that for now Deputy Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik, P.E., will serve as acting commissioner.

The change of commissioner comes at a very busy time for the DOB as since Today the new 2022 NYC Construction Codes goes into effect

The 2022 NYC Construction Code includes 600 major updates and thousands of smaller changes that are supposed to improve safety and incorporate the latest building technologies. It is the largest comprehensive revision of the code since 2014.

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fall accident causesDespite strict safety regulations and awar

eness campaigns, falls remain the number one cause of death in the construction industry.

In an innovative study recently published by the Center for Construction Research and Planning (CPWR), the authors, Grace Barlet, Rosa Greenberg and Jessica Bunting tried to understand why, despite all the efforts, 353 construction workers died from fall in the US in 2020.

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construction workers moving equipment are at risk of struck by accidentsCarlos’Law, a bill named after Carlos Moncayo, an undocumented and nonunion construction worker who was 22 year old when he was fatally crushed by a collapsing wall  on a Manhattan construction site, is on the desk of NY Governor Hochul. The bill that passed the State legislature earlier in June proposes to significantly raise fines for contractors and their agents who have been criminally charged after a serious in jury or death occurred at their construction site. Fines for misdemeanor would be raised to $300,000 and fines for a felony in criminal cases related to the death of a construction worker would be raised to $500,000 instead of the actual $10,000.

The actual NY state-imposed limit on corporate penalties of $10,000 is “Monopoly money”

Construction companies are rarely criminally charged in New York. Since The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was signed by President Nixon, out of 400,000 hard hat fatalities, 80 of them were prosecuted and around 12 only resulted in criminal charges.  Harco Construction, the general contractor for the site where Carlos Moncayo died was one of them (see previous posts). The contractor was sentenced to pay $10,000 (the maximum fine on corporate penalties in NY State) after being found guilty of reckless endangerment, criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter. At the time Cyrus R. Vance Jr who was the District Attorney called the fine “Monopoly money”.

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Graphics_Heat_Hydration_InstagramTwo years ago, on July 7 2020 in Geneseo, NY, Tim Barber, a 35 year old construction worker died from heat stress on his second day at work. The young man had just been hired as a construction laborer on the Genesee River bridge project in Geneseo, NY. Tim was living with his parents and came back home on the first day not feeling well. On the second day before he headed back to work, his father told him to eat his lunch, take breaks and drink water. Several hours later, in mid-afternoon, their son died from hyperthermia.

According to the investigation, Tim was working alone in a summer heat that was around 95 degrees. He was sorting bolts which is considered a light duty, however his body was not accustomed to the heat.  The accident could have been prevented and the employer, Pavilion Drainage Supply, Inc. was cited by OSHA for not training and protecting their employees against extreme heat. His parents are now advocating for better  workers education and protection for extreme heat.

Tim’s parents are not the only one campaigning for better workers protection against heat illness and fatality. New York Attorney General Laetitia James is at the head of a coalition of six States that are asking OSHA to implement a national standard to protect not only construction workers but all workers, outdoor and indoor, that are exposed to extreme heat during their work.

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increased risk of crashes on highway work zonesHighway construction zones are dangerous areas where both construction workers and motorists are at risk of getting injured or killed in crashes.

An annual study conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and Heavy Construction Systems Specialists (HCSS), found that during the past year 64% of contractors working on highways experienced at least one crash on their work site. Among them, 32% reported 5 crashes or more.

5 or more construction workers were injured in 2% of these crashes, 3 workers were injured in 3% of them, 2 in 5% of them and  1 hard hat was injured in 8% of them. In the majority of the accidents (82%) no workers were injured.

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Queens construction site where the fatal accident occurred
NYC Construction workers who have been injured or families of construction workers who died on the job can often sue the contractor and/or the owner of the construction sites as, sadly, the majority of construction accidents occurring on New York sites are the result of negligence.

The most common construction accident cases resulting in litigation in New York City are accidents related to falls. New York Labor Law Section 240 also known as the Saffold Law protects hard hats who fell from heights or got struck by a falling object.

A look at last April NYC construction accidents indicates that out of the 35 accidents that resulted in death or injuries, 20 of them were preventable and occurred after safety rules were violated. Among them were 12 fall accidents. Two of them were deadly.

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OSHA logoDME Construction Associates, a negligent NY contractor who is now also listed as a severe violator, was issued a $1.2 million  fine by OSHA for 4 serious and 9 willful violations of safety rules.

The contractor was slapped with the hefty fine after one of its employees fell to his death while working on the roof of the Town of Oyster Bay solid waste disposal facility in Old Bethpage, Nassau County, NY. The accident occurred on August 19th 2021. The 56 year old construction worker fell 18 feet through an unprotected skylight. Despite working on a rooftop, he was not provided any personal fall protection equipment by his employer as required by law.

OSHA’s investigators found that the contractor failed to provide personal fall safety equipment for employees working on the rooftop. Additionally the contractor failed to protect the skylight as well as other roof openings and roof edges and exposed workers to falls of up to 22 feet.

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2 hard hats died during the first quarter of 2022 and 110 of them were injured while working on construction sites in New York City. Both fatalities were fall accidents, both occurred in Brooklyn and both were preventable.

The first fatality occurred on February 11. Angel Pilataxi, a father of 3 children and 3 step children fell to his death at a construction site located at 124 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn. According to the DOB investigation,  the worker was taking measurements on the edge of the roof on the eighth floor when the accident happened. He was not using a safety harness and fell over the parapet. He was found unconscious lying on the second floor terrace. He did not survive. Investigators found that the worker and a co-worker who was working with him at the time of the accident not only did not have a site safety training card but also did not receive any site-specific safety training and did not participate in a pre-shit meeting in the morning. At the time of the accident a full stop order was issued and the DOB issued a violation failure to safeguard persons and property affected by the construction operations.

The second fatal accident occurred on a construction site located at 295 St John’s Place on March 21st. A rigging foreman who was installing a suspended scaffolding go caught between the fire stairs and the scaffold, lost his balance and fell fifteen feet onto a metal fence. He died from his injuries. A full stop work was issued and the DOB also issued a violation for failure to safeguard person and property affected by construction.

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In its latest bulletin, the Center for Construction Research and Training looks at injuries and fatalities sustained by construction workers in the US over a 10 years period. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for the fatal injuries and on on employer logs obtained from the BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) for the non fatal injuries, this bulletin provides an overview of the trends of injuries and deaths in the construction industry.

Construction work remains one of  the most dangerous job in the US

In 2020 construction workers represented 7.3% of the total workforce in the US and 21.7% of the workforce fatal injuries. Globally, between 2011 and 2020, working on a construction site became more dangerous with both hard hat fatality and injury rates on the rise. 2020 was affected by the Covid 19 pandemic and while less fatalities and injuries were reported because the activity was limited, the fatality rate and the injury rate both reached a record high that year.

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NYC Construction Safety WeekFalls are the main cause of  injuries and deaths for construction workers in New York City and most of them can be prevented.

A large safety awareness campaign is going on this week in New York City to reduce accidents on construction sites, with a focus on fall accidents.

Construction Safety Week is a yearly safety campaign organized by the NYC Department of Buildings to remind workers and their employers and families that safety best practices on construction sites prevent accident injuries and deaths.