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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 Forklift Accidents

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Forklifts can be dangerous and result in accidentsAround 100 people die and around 34,000 are injured in forklift accidents every year. The most common forklift accidents are rollovers  and in almost half of the fatal accidents, the operator of the forklift is being crushed when the forklift tips over. Forklifts can also be very dangerous to pedestrians who can get struck or crushed by a forklift or by a falling load.

To raise awareness about forklift safety, the second Tuesday of June is NATIONAL FORKLIFT SAFETY DAY for the 9th consecutive year.

Why do forklift accidents occur?

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job-made-boxes-can-lead-to-serious-injury-and-deathIn a recent bulletin, OSHA warns construction workers and other workers using forklifts about potential injuries and deaths caused by “job-made boxes”

What are “job-made boxes”?

Job made boxes are any makeshift attachments created by construction workers or workers in other industries such as boxes, baskets or platforms. They are often made of wood as well as metal and plastic. They look like a little balcony: a platform with 3 walls around it. Workers attach these boxes to forklifts to lift equipment, workers or material to various heights. Workers also use them to step on them when working at elevated levels.

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Brooklyn Fatal Construction AccidentA hard hat died in a forklift accident in New York City last month. 44 year old Over Paredes was working on the construction site of a six-story condo located  at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn when a piece of metal-framed wall fell on him.

The accident occurred on the rooftop of the building during a day of high wind.  The large piece of sheet metal was extremely heavy and was being hoisted by a manual forklift. During the lifting operation, the forklift that, according to a worker, was lighter than the piece of wall, was knocked down onto its side by a gust of wind and the huge piece of wall fell on Paredes.  The construction worker died at the scene of the accident despite all the efforts of the EMS to try to rescucitate him.

The crane operator had previously refused to hoist the piece because of the high wind

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NYC construction workers The number of construction accident fatalities in New York City recorded by the DOB doubled during the first seven months of 2018 compared to the same period of 2017. The DOB data does not include fatalities from transit and roadway projects, as well as health emergencies, that are not in DOB’s jurisdiction and usually approximately account for an additional third of the DOB numbers. These numbers are usually recorded by OSHA but are not available so far.

8 construction workers died between January 1st 2018 and July 31st 2018. The year before, 4 of them died during the same period of time. Injuries also rose by 17% from 401 to 469 while the total number of construction accidents went up 18.4% from 386 to 457.

Among the 8 workers who died, 4 of them died while working on a Manhattan construction site , 2 of them while working on a Queens site, one of them on a Brooklyn site and one of them on a Bronx site. Sadly most of these deaths might have been prevented if safety rules had been proprely implemented and respected.

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A hard hat died at a NYC construction site after being crushed between a forklift and and a flatbed truck. 46 year old Jorge Castaneda from Queens was working at a Brooklyn construction site located at the intersection of Stewart Street and Broadway in Buschwick, Saturday afternoon around 3:00 pm. The construction worker walked between a flatbed truck and a forklift that was carrying scaffolding pipes. The forklift tipped over as it was passing next to Castaneda, crushing him against the truck.  Emergency responders lifted the forklift, liberated the poor man and rushed him to the hospital. Unfortunately the worker couldn’t be saved. He died from his injuries.  Read more in the NY Daily News

Forklifts are dangerous machines and unfortunately accidents involving workers on foot struck by such machines are all too common. Very often accidents occur because safety protocols established by the New York State Department of Labor were not followed. In the case of the death of Jorge Castaneda, the forklift may have tipped because it was not in compliance with Industrial Code §23-9.8(b) stating that forklifts may not be overloaded.

Picture of the site of the accident courtesy of Google Map

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New York Forklift Accident Attorney Christopher DonadioOur Construction Accident Attorney Christopher J. Donadio obtained a $1.1 million settlement in a construction accident that occurred in New Jersey.

The case involved a construction accident that occurred on April 15, 2015 on a construction site in Hackensack, New Jersey. On that date, the plaintiff,who was a worker on the job site, was struck by a large forklift, suffering injuries to his left leg and right ankle.

Due to the impact, the plaintiff was taken by ambulance to Hackensack University Medical Center. At the hospital, the plaintiff was diagnosed with fractures of his left leg and right ankle. As a result of the injuries, the plaintiff required a surgery to repair his fractured left leg, and required three surgeries on his right ankle.

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A construction worker was pinned between a forklift and a van and died from his injuries. The forklift accident occurred  in front of a FDNY warehouse in Queens on Saturday afternoon. The 28 year old man drove the forklift in front of the warehouse in order to upload merchandise from a van. He put the forklift in neutral and stepped out. As he was walking toward the van, the forklift started to roll behind him, crushing him against the van. He was rushed to the emergency room but he died at the hospital. According to the NY Daily News, the equipment belonged to the FDNY.

Forklift accidents are unfortunately too common. 11% of the forklifts operating in the US are involved in accidents every year. Among these accidents 35,000 workers will die or suffer severe injuries and 65,000 will suffer minor injuries. Here are a few tips to prevent such accidents from happening.

 

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A 22 year old Brooklyn supermarket worker was crushed to death by a forklift yesterday. According to the media, Gustavo Tapia was using an electric pallet stacker to push a Yale forklift up a ramp leading to the rooftop of Moisha’s Discount Supermarket on Ave M in Borough Park, Brooklyn when the forklift suddenly rolled backward and pinned the young worker against the wall. Gustavio Tapia suffered fatal chest injury and was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.

Read more in the Gothamist and the NY Daily News

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A construction worker suffered fatal injury on Governor’s Island, New York. He and his son were standing next to a forklift that was unloading a heavy sewer pipe when a strap securing it broke. The 6000 pound pipe crushed the man to death in front of his son.

Read full story in Daily News.

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By Anthony Gair;

(A) THE RECALCITRANT WORKER DEFENSE
(1) A BRIEF HISTORY

In order to understand the break from precedent by the Court of Appeals in 2004, it is useful to understand the history of the recalcitrant worker defense. For years the leading recalcitrant worker case was Smith v. Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Corp., 89 A.D.2d 361, 455 N.Y.S.2d 446 (4th dept. 1982); app. dismd. 58 N.Y.2d 824. The rule enunciated therein was that the “….the statutory protection (afforded by §240) does not extend to workers who have adequate and safe equipment available to them but refuse to use it.”

The facts in Smith are important in order to understand how the Court of Appeals in decisions between 2004 and 2009 expanded the reach of the recalcitrant worker defense by relying on cases such as Smith, while ignoring the facts upon which the holdings were based, thereby in effect failing to follow long established precedent.
For example, in Smith the plaintiff went up on a roof despite the fact that safety equipment had been removed and after a co-worker had refused to do so unless the safety equipment was put back in place.

The Court’s holding was thus based on the fact the plaintiff knowingly chose not to use safety devices which he knew had been in place and were readily available. His accident was also contemporaneous in time with his refusal to use the safety devices which his co-worker insisted be in place before the co-worker got on the roof.

The Court of Appeals followed the reasoning of Smith for years, as did numerous Appellate Division cases.

In Gordon v. Eastern Railway Supply, Inc., 82 N.Y.2d 555, 606 N.Y.S.2d 127 (1993) the plaintiff was standing on a ladder leaning against a railroad car while using a hand-held sandblaster to clean the exterior of the car. He was injured when he fell from the ladder. In rejecting the defendant’s claim that the plaintiff was a recalcitrant worker, the Court stated:
“Defendants’ claim here rests on their contention that plaintiff was repeatedly instructed to use a scaffold, not a ladder, when sandblasting railroad cars. We have held, however, that an instruction by an employer or owner to avoid using unsafe equipment or engaging in unsafe practices is not a ‘safety device’ in the sense that plaintiff’s failure to comply with the instruction is equivalent to refusing to use available, safe and appropriate equipment (Stolt v. General Foods Corp., supra; see also, Hagins v. State of New York, 81 NY2d 921, 922-923). Evidence of such instructions does not, by itself, create an issue of fact sufficient to support a recalcitrant worker defense.”
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