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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Berylium62,000 workers including 11,500 construction and shipyard workers are exposed to beryllium in their workplace according to OSHA estimates. Beryllium is a metal used in many applications and industry including medical specialties, aerospace, defense, telecommunications and automotive electronics. Workers who are exposed to dust or fumes of beryllium and beryllium compounds without adequate protection can develop an immune response known as Beryllium Sensitization and progressively develop chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and/or lung cancer. Workers with CBD suffer from lung lesions and lung fibrosis that can prevent the lung to expand fully and oxygenate the blood. While CBD symptoms can be treated, there is no cure for the disease itself.

To protect workers from CBD and lung cancer, OSHA  started Yesterday the enforcement of some of the requirements of its New Rule on Beryllium. The new standards were issued last January by OSHA  and were initially scheduled to be enforced 60 days ago.

The requirements that will be enforced starting Yesterday  are

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Construction_workers_not_wearing_fall_protection_equipmentContractors who failed to protect construction workers from fall accidents and contractors who didn’t follow excavation and trenching safety rules were the ones hit with the biggest OSHA violations. Before Trump was elected, OSHA used to publish a high volume of press releases “shaming contractors” for violating safety rules. The number of press releases decreased but the penalties are among some of the highest OSHA has ever proposed. However many of them are negotiated down. Here are the top 10 recent largest fines:

  1. $1,523,710 for Great White Construction in Jacksonville, Florida related to fall protection and eye hazard violations. This commercial and residential roofer was cited 22 times for the same violations before being fined.  OSHA also listed the contractor in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
  2. $1,475,813 for Atlantic Drain Service Co. in Boston, Massachusetts.  This fine is related to an accident during which two construction workers died after a trench collapsed on them. Atlantic was cited for 18 safety violations and a new regulation was created that requires contractors to disclose their safety history when applying for a building permit in Boston. The owner of Atlantic was charged with manslaughter.
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New York Construction Site with protection against fallFalls are the main cause of deaths in the construction industry. Each year more than 200 hard hats die and more than 10,000 are seriously injured in fall accidents. The National Safety Stand Down Week aims at reducing falls from scaffolds, ladders and roofs by encouraging contractors and anyone working in the construction industry to take 3 simple but efficient measures that can prevent these fall accidents.

Many accidents can be prevented

  • by planning ahead how to execute the task safely
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Prevent falls in Construction Campaig
Falls are the number one cause of death in the construction industry. In 2016, a total of 991 hard hats died in construction accidents. Almost 40% of them, 370,  lost their life after they fell from a height. Most of these accidents may have been prevented.

To increase awareness and to prevent more injuries and deaths related to falls, OSHA and several other partners advocating for safe construction practices are asking employers all over the country to organize Safety Stand-Down events and discuss safety with their employees.  Employers are invited to focus on Fall Hazard and Fall Prevention. Safety stand-down can be conducted in various ways. Toolbox talk during a break or inspections of safety equipment, development of rescue plans or discussion related to specific job hazards are examples of activities that can be organized during a safety stand-down. The OSHA website proposes various suggestions and ideas to employers on how to organize a successful Stand-Down. OSHA also has an event page for Stand-Down events by regions that are free and open to the public. OSHA also encourages all employers to share their Stand-Down experience. Employers who are participating in the campaign will also receive a Certificate of Participation.

CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT PREVENTION EVENTS ORGANIZED BY THE NYC DOB

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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.