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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NYC construction workers have a high risk of fatalities Construction worker deaths in New York City and New York State represented respectively 22% and 24% of all worker deaths in the city and in the State in 2020 according to the annual report “Deadly Skyline” recently published by NYCOSH. The percentage is higher than the 21% rate recorded at the national level.

While less workers died in 2020 in NY and and NYC, data are difficult to compare as many construction sites shut down during the lock down. 41 construction workers died in accidents in New York State in 2020 compared to 55 in 2019. Among them, 13 died on New York City construction sites in 2020 compared to 24 in 2019.

Fatality rate is a better measure of how dangerous the work places are: In New York State, the construction workers fatality rate was 11.1 per 100,000 workers in 2020 compared to 10.2 in 2019. This indicates that work conditions were more dangerous for workers in 2020 than in 2019 in New York State. In New York City, the fatality rate declined from 11.6 to 7 per 100.000 which is quite an improvement and an indication that the recent measures taken by the city to make construction sites safer may work. Over the last few years, the budget for the New York City Department of Building has been increasing and so did the number of employees working on safety legislation and inspections.

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OSHA logoAfter a hard hat fatally fell 60 feet during demolition work on one of its construction sites, Richmond Construction, based in Queens, NYC, was hit by a $374,603 OSHA fine. This is the second highest OSHA fine for the last quarter of  2021.

Last May, a 49 year old worker hired by Richmond Construction was working on the demolition of the Flatbush Bank Building in Brooklyn. He had just finished breaking apart a section of the roof with a jackhammer and was  walking on the top of the exposed side when a piece of concrete on which he was standing broke apart. The man fell 60 feet down to the ground and died. The worker was not using proper safety equipment and had no training to execute such a dangerous job.

The OSHA investigators found that Richmond Construction failed to provide lifesaving fall protection and did not train employees to recognize and avoid fall hazards. The contractor was cited for 9 willful, repeat and serious violations including:

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safety on construction site is keySome construction workers, especially those working on emergency repairs are required to work for long period of time in sub-zero temperatures and as a result they might suffer cold related illnesses and injuries such as Hypothermia, Frostbite, Trench Foot and Chilblains.

How to prevent cold illnesses?

  • The most important way to prevent cold illnesses is to wear appropriate clothing that are made for cold, wet and windy conditions. Dressing with layers of loose fitting clothes that can be adjusted depending on the outside temperature and always wearing a hat that covers ears and if necessary a knit mask. Waterproof and insulated gloves as well as socks and waterproof and insulated shoes that keep the body dry are necessary when working outside for a long time. Additionnally. it is always a good idea to bring extra clothes to change  in cases clothes get wet.
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construction workers working at height in NYCTo reduce construction accidents in New York City and make sure New Yorkers and construction workers are protected, New York City Building Laws are constantly updated to adapt to actual situations.  Last year, a major update of the NYC construction code led to more than 600 significant changes and thousands of smaller ones. Here is a list of some of the laws that are affecting construction safety on work sites, building inspection requirements, and property maintenance:

  • Local Law 74 of 2021 was updated in regards to fences at stalled construction sites: chain link fences should be installed at sites where work was discontinued and all equipment and material posing hazards were removed.
  • Local Law 119 of 2021 extends the application period for certification of no harassment  pilot program
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construction workers moving equipment are at risk of struck by accidentsIn New York and in the US, construction companies, like any employers, are responsible for the safety of their employees while they are at work. If a construction worker is injured or killed on the job, the employer might be liable. Therefore during the pandemic they had to make sure that construction workers were adequately protected from getting the potentially deadly virus.

In their last month Data Bulleting, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), looked at how construction companies dealt with Safety Management during the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of the nature of their work, construction workers can not work from home and often have to work in teams. Therefore they can easily be exposed to Covid19 if one of the workers is sick. As a result, construction businesses had to take measures to keep their employees safe from potential viral transmission.  However  the CPWR found that safety measures were different from one construction business to the other.

It is not a surprise that three quarters of construction businesses in the US reported that their business suffered from the Covid-19 crisis and that  a quarter of them suffered large decreases in employment compared to pre-pandemic levels. Among the extra expenses related to Covid19, many construction businesses implemented on-site testing as many of them also did not require vaccination for employees working on their construction sites.  While 11% of all nonfarm businesses require their onsite employees to be vaccinated, only 6% of construction companies do.

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Man-working-on-tubular-scaffold-scaledAfter a 21 year old worker fell to his death on a Brooklyn construction site, Everest Scaffolding, a NYC roofing company located in the Bronx, received a $300,370 OSHA  fine. This fine was the second largest OSHA fine of Q2 2021 . The accident related to the fine occurred on November 13, 2020. The young worker was installing a supported tubular welded frame scaffold during the construction of a seven-story building in Brooklyn when he fell almost 50 feet and died.

OSHA investigators found that:

  • the roofing company did not evaluate the feasibility of using fall protection
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Our NY personal injury injury law firm is proud to announce that our partners Anthony H. Gair and Christopher J. Donadio obtained a $6.5 million settlement for a construction worker injured in Manhattan.

The case involved a worker who was injured while performing demolition work at a large construction site. On the day of the incident, the worker was instructed by his foreman to remove any material that was attached to the permanent ceiling on the second floor of the work site. In order to perform the work, the worker was required to use a large blowtorch while standing on a mobile scaffold. Unfortunately, the provided mobile scaffold did not have any safety railings. While the worker was performing his work on the scaffold, he lost his balance and fell headfirst to the concrete ground six to eight feet below.

The worker was rushed to Bellevue Hospital where he was diagnosed with a skull fracture and a brain injury. He was forced to undergo several surgeries as a result of his injuries.

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A total of 5 construction workers lost their life on the job in New York City between April 1st and June 31st . Since 2015, this is only the second time that construction fatalities recorded by the NYC Department of Buildings during the second quarter reached such a high number. The other time was in 2019. 2 fatalities occurred in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan, one in the Bronx and one in Queens. 3 of the fatalities were falls and two were related to mechanical construction equipment. The last two weeks of May were particularly deadly. On May 19th, at around 8:20 am, two workers were cleaning debris on the 5th floor of a construction site located at 20 Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx. They loaded a new elevator car with the debris, got in the car with the debris and proceeded to head downstairs. The elevator had a mechanical failure and the car fell from the fifth floor. One of the workers was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and the second was injured and transported to the hospital. Three days later in Queens, a deadly accident occurred when two workers were instructed to use an extension ladder from the sixth floor chimney shaft to the roof. One of the workers said he heard a “crush sound” as he was at the second or third step of the ladder and turned around, he didn’t see anything so he kept going and took the ladder by himself to the roof. His colleague was found dead almost two hours later on the second floor. He had fell in an elevator shaft. 5 days later on May 27th, a hard hat who was working on a roof during a demolition job, fell to his death at a construction site located at 1045 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Two other workers died earlier in April, one of them came in contact with a live wire and was fatally electrocuted on a Manhattan construction site located at 555 West 22nd Street and the other one fell to his death from a dangerous scaffolding installation at a construction site located at East 53rd Street in Brooklyn.  These recent fatalities were so alarming that the DOB organized a massive sweep of all major construction sites in the city and temporarily closed hundreds of them for not respecting safety standards. (see previous blog).

Hard hat fatalities NYC Q2 2021
Falls remain the number one cause of fatal construction accidents in New York City. Again during Q2, 3 of the 5 fatalities were fall. Most of the time fall fatalities are the result of negligence by the contractor and could have been prevented. Fatalities often occur on sites that have a history of violations and complaints, for example, the construction site located at 1200 East 53rd Street in Brooklyn has so far recorded a total of 30 complaints, 50 DOB Violations including 8 open and 40 OATH/ECB violations including an open one for failing to notify the DOB after the death of the worker. A stop work order is still active at this location. The site located at 45-18 Court Square in Queens previously logged in 53 complaints, 54 DOB violations including 3 open and 39 OATH/ECB violations including 11 open. Before the deadly accident occurred at this site, the contractor was fined for failing to safeguard all persons and property affected by construction operations. This violation is still open. The same goes for the site located at 1045 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn which as of Today has a stop work order with 20 OATH/ECB violations open, most of them of the highest severity. Hard hats working on construction sites that are unsafe have a much higher risk to die in a construction accident.

Construction worker fatalities by type of accidents Q2 NYC
The number of construction workers injured on the job was a little lower than usual during the second quarter. A total of 144 workers suffered injury in construction accidents in New York City during the 3-month period of April, May, June 2021 compared to respectively, 68, 150, 233, 170, 171 and 134 during the same period of 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015.  Last year the numbers were lower because of the Covid19 lockdown and we can not compare them to any other year. Manhattan had the most injuries, followed by Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

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roofers fatalityRoofers have one of the most dangerous occupations among all workers. Every year more than hundred of them are dying in fall accidents. According to the most recent statistics, among the 401 fall fatalities recorded in the construction industry in 2019, 146 of them were roofer fatalities. Roofers have the fourth highest fatal injury rate after fishing and hunting workers, logging workers and aircraft and flight engineers according to the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (see graph on the left)

Many fatal falls could have been prevented if  roofers were using a personal fall arrest

In New York, employers are required by law to provide roofers with a personal fall arrest system that meets the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z359).  A personal fall arrest system consists of a full body harness, connectors and lanyards that will limit the fall distance by being attached to a fixed anchor. Under New York Law, roofers also have to take a determined amount of hours of training in order to learn how to use the equipment.

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workers on suspended scaffoldIn an effort to reduce construction accident deaths and injuries in New York City, the Department of Buildings has been deploying new strategies and increasing its staff. It just released a new report about it.

New inspection unit

The DOB role is not only to deliver wok permits for new construction or renovations but also to make sure that construction workers are being fully protected when they do their job. In order to do so the DOB created a new inspection unit called the “Construction Safety Compliance”. Inspectors in this unit are targeting mainly large NYC construction sites and making sure that all workers have been following the Site Safety Training and contractors are respecting all construction safety rules.