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 Tagged with construction accident

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road construction workers143 workers lost their lives on road construction sites in 2016 in America compared to respectively 130, 119 and 105 in 2015, 2014 and 2013. This is the third consecutive year that the number of worker deaths has been increasing.  Over the last 10 years the number of road construction workers dying in crashes has been oscillating between 100 and 130. The average for the last 3 years is 130.7 It is the first year that this number is above 140.

Increased vehicular traffic, distracted driving and increase of road construction projects are among the main causes of this increase in fatalities. In a recent press release the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) urges drivers to be more careful and keep their eyes on the road when they drive near or through road construction zones.

Because of the nature of their activity, road workers and especially highway workers are highly exposed to fatal accidents.  Last year they represented almost 20% of the 765 fatalities that occurred on road construction sites. Drivers and passengers of motor vehicles represented around 80% of the fatalities.

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Construction_AccidentAmong the 350,000 construction sites who were required by OSHA to electronically file their annual injury and illnesses log summary by December 31st only 153,653 complied.  61,000 construction sites that were not required to provide electronic records did it anyway. Almost 200,000 work sites  didn’t comply with OSHA’s new electronic record keeping rule. It is not exactly clear why so many companies didn’t comply with the new rule. Some companies may have believed they were exempted, some thought that the deadline would be extended one more time. Other employers didn’t want their data to be published online as the new rule requires it.

Technically OSHA now has  until June 15 to visit the 200,000 locations that violated the rule. Companies who didn’t file may risk up to $12,934  in penalties. Companies who can demonstrate they had difficulty filing electronically as well as companies who can provide a paper copy of their report may be exempted from a fine.

According to Construction Dive, some experts believe that OSHA wasn’t aggressive enough in its compliance effort.

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CPWR at a glanceProtecting construction workers from being injured or dying in accidents is the mission of the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). CPWR not only publishes in-depth research in the field of construction safety and health but also provides services and training programs for construction workers.

The researchers at CPWR are working in close collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)  on safety and health issues affecting construction workers. Based on research results, CPWR develops new interventions to protect construction workers.  CPWR is working with tool and equipment manufacturers, instructors and insurance companies to reach out to contractors and workers. They believe in r2p: research to practice and p2r: practice to research.

Last year the institution offered 6,133 courses and trained 1,177 trainers who themselves trained 78,702 workers. CPWR firmly believes that improving safety culture and climate leads to a reduction of injury and illnesses.

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Fall Protection SystemThe Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) looked over 33 years of data from the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program and found out that falls were responsible for 42% of hard hat deaths. The CPWR searchers also found that  54% of the workers who died after falling did not have access to a personal fall arrest system and 23% had access to it but did not use it.  The study also found that roofers, siding and sheet metal contractors were those who most often were not provided with a personal fall arrest system. These numbers  clearly show the importance  of  holding contractors accountable for the safety of their employees when they work at high elevation.

NY STATE SCAFFOLD LAW MUST BE KEPT

In New York, the Scaffold Safety Law (Section 240(1) of the NYS Labor Law)  holds an owner and general contractor responsible for the death or the injuries of a worker if the worker wasn’t provided with the necessary safety equipment when working at height. Big construction companies and insurance companies have been trying to kill this law for years. However the Scaffold Law remains the most effective manner to make sure construction workers are protected from falls. This is particularly important in New York City where a lot of hard hats are participating in the construction of high rises buildings.

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construction workerThe industry hates to talk about it but in the recent year many construction workers have been dying not from accidents but from opioid abuse. According to a previous study, workers in the construction industry are the second most susceptible workers to use opioids after workers in the food industry. The study estimates that more than 15% of  construction workers are using illicit drugs. Because of the nature of the job, construction workers are more prone to serious injuries than workers in other industries. Statistics indicate that the cost of opioid use is greater in construction than in any other industry. When comparing the total cost of prescription by industry, opioids account for 20% for the construction industry compared to an average 10% for the average of all other industries.

Opioids are used to reduce pain but they can cause addiction and lead to abuse

A recent article in Cleveland.com looked at deaths statistics and found that Ohio construction workers were seven time more likely to die from an opioid overdose than workers in other industries.  Workers addicted to opioids not only can cause injury to themselves but they also put at risk their coworkers or even passersby.  They also have a negative impact on the productivity and the profitability of their employers.

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electric linemenConstruction is the industry that has the highest electrocution deaths among all industries. OSHA identifies electrocution as one of the leading causes of fatality among construction workers. In its latest Quarterly Data Report, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) is taking a close look at recent electrocution data and proposes solutions to prevent them.

Since 2012 the construction industry rose back from the 2008 recession and so did the number of fatal construction accidents. From 2011 to 2015 fatal construction accidents increased by 26% from 781 to 985 fatalities. During the same period, electrocution fatalities rose by 17% from 70 to 82 fatalities. In average during this period electrocution deaths represented 9% of all construction accident deaths.

Electrocution deaths in the construction industry have been declining since 2003. From 134 in 2003 they recorded their lowest in 2012 with 66 deaths and went back up to 82 in 2015. The rate per 100,000 workers also went down from 1.3 in 2003 to 0.8 in 2015.

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OSHA-inspectorTo prevent workers, especially construction workers, from being killed or injured on the job, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducts thousands of work sites inspections every year. After Trump took over some worried that OSHA power would be diminished and that workers might be exposed to riskier work conditions. So far it hasn’t been the case.

During the fiscal year 2017, OSHA conducted 32,396 inspections compared with 31,948 during the fiscal year 2016.  The average penalty per violation was $3645 during the 2017 fiscal year compared with  $3415 during the 2016 fiscal year. Between 2010 and 2015 there was an average 8.4 $1 million cases reported yearly however in 2017 there were only 6 $1 million cases.

Despite being nominated by the president to head OSHA, Scott Mugno, currently vice president for safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate yet. So far the career OSHA people are still running the show and things are not expected to change dramatically.  This is mainly because the lack of political leadership and the language and requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act are preventing deregulation.

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OSHA logoUnder the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, some employers in high risk sectors such as construction, manufacturing and building materials are required to report employees illnesses and injuries to OSHA. Until last year these employers reported these data manually in what was commonly called the “OSHA Log”.  The OSHA log commonly refers to:

  • the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300)
  • the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A)
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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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spray foam insulation can be dangerous for construction workersConstruction workers using spray-foam insulation are exposed to chemicals that can lead to asthma and skin conditions if they don’t use adequate protection. Spray foam insulation is one of the most popular choices for home owners to save energy, however some of the chemicals used to make the foam are detrimental to human health.

Spray polyurethane foam contains isocyanates and flame retardant TCPP than can cause severe breathing and skin problems. In a recent webinar from the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR)  Dhimiter Bello, ScD, MSc; Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell explained the results of recent studies and summarized the risks of exposure to dangerous chemicals in spray foam insulation associated with current work practices.

Overall airborne exposure to spray foam insulation are usually below OSHA recommended levels but some risks are still unknowns and under evaluation (see blog from Center for Disease Control and Prevention).  The risk of dermal exposure is elevated for both exposure to isocyanates and TCPP and is a major concern when using SPF applications. Nitrile gloves as well as breathable coveralls such as Tyvek or PP provide construction workers with significant protection when used during spray-foam insulation applications. It is important that Nitrile gloves be at least 5 mil. thick to provide a better resistance to wear and tear.