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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 Tagged with construction accident

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excavation work in NYC streetsToo many construction workers are still being injured or dying while working in trenches or excavations. A new video by OSHA on excavation and trenching safety looks at previous violations and how to prevent them.

While doing excavation, construction workers are facing multiple hazards. Cave in hazard is the most dangerous one.  Unfortunately  many construction workers are injured or die in trenches because of negligence. Failure to respect excavation requirements is the 6th most common violation in the construction industry behind fall protection (general requirement), scaffolding, ladders, fall protection training and eye and face protection.

While looking at violations related to excavation and trenching the most common one is failure to protect employees in excavations with 809 citations in 2019. OSHA requires employers to set up specific protective systems such as shoring for workers in excavations however too many employers are still cutting corners as the high number of violations demonstrates.

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construction sites are reopening in NYCNow that the construction industry is restarting in most of the country, some contractors are using the help and advice of medical professionals. to keep the deadly virus out of their job sites. Medical consultants are being hired to make sure the new Covid-19 safety guidelines are applied proprely and health and safety staff are being seen on job sites screening construction workers temperature.  Industrial hygienists are being hired to work on safety protocols. Infectious disease experts are providing consulting to construction companies with large amounts of workers to make sure they get advice on proper infection control practices across construction sites such as  installation of washing stations, cleaning, new protocol with food vendors, proper face covering and contact tracing procedures.  Many large contractors have also created their own Response Team in charge of working with medical experts to make sure recommendations are proprely implemented. They also try to hire health care providers with pandemic preparedness background to join theses teams on a full time basis. However because of the actual shortage of healthcare providers these positions are difficult to fill.

In New York, employers are responsible for the safety of their construction workers. A large contractor not only consulted with medical professionals for its construction sites but also for its corporate offices. The contractor uses automatic temperature checking stations, barriers between open offices as well as staggered start times with rotation schedules for their employees. The flow of offices has been re-designed to one way. Employees received personal lunch kits, and silver defender virus-killing tape was applied on door handles, coffee stations and copy machines.  Additionally the marketing team of the company has been creating various videos to proprely train employees on how to access their job sites or their office, how to behave on the jobs site and in offices, how to socially distance while at work as well as how to use sanitation and cleaning.

Read more in Construction Dive

 

 

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construction worker using laptopWith the Coronavirus pandemic, the construction industry is adopting new technologies to make sure workers are protected.Remote monitoring, online inspections and video conferencing are becoming more and more common on construction sites and governmental entities are considering technologies that give them the option to conduct virtual inspections.

Because the cost of labor is cheaper in the US than in Europe, American construction sites have not relayed on technology as much as their European or Australian counterparts. However with many construction sites being deemed essential during the Covid-19 crisis, American contractors are now catching up and integrating new technologies that might become the new norm in the future.

Wearable technology can save life

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Construction-workers-injuries-preventionSafety on construction sites is not only about preventing accidents but also about keeping construction workers healthy and preventing injuries.

Because of the nature of the tasks they perform on a daily basis, construction workers are at a high risk of developing work-related muskuloskeletal disorders (WMSDs) also known as soft tissues injuries.

Keeping  a worker free from injuries is a win win situation for both the employer and the worker

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construction workers65 construction workers died from unintentional overdose while on the job in the US in 2018 compared to respectively 48, 32, 27, 18, 17, 7 and 7 in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. These deaths represent more than a quarter of the 305 overdose fatalities at workplaces recorded for all industries in the US in 2018. The construction industry is one of the most affected industries by the opioid crisis in the US.

In its recently published Quarterly Data Report, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) provides an in-depth analysis of the dramatic increase of unintentional overdose fatalities on american construction sites.

HIGH NUMBER OF UNINTENTIONAL OVERDOSE FATALITIES ON CONSTRUCTION SITES IN THE NORTH EAST REGION

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Hard-Rock-Hotel-construction-accident-e1582228604154The crane accident that killed 4 people at a Google office project in Seattle and the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel project that resulted in 3 deaths were among the most horrendous construction accidents that occur last year in the US.  While these major tragedies were all over the news, crane accidents and partial building collapses occurred all over the country last year.  A partial collapse of a building in Cinicinnati, a crane collapse in Dallas. Most big cities in the US  had similar tragedies including New York. Last August one man died and five were injured in a building collapse (see previous blog). A crane company was temporarily banned from the city after two consecutive crane accidents including one resulting in the death of a construction worker (see previous blog).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 175 people are injured in crane accidents and 44 die on average every year in the US

Most crane accidents are caused by human errors. Many of them such as the one that occurred at the Google site in Seattle or the one that killed a worker in New York occur during the  assembling or the disassembling of the crane.  The assembly/dissassembly director is in charge of making sure that the manufacturer guidelines and all safety procedures are followed during this dangerous operation. While OSHA introduced new regulations last April, these regulations are mostly related to improving crane operator’s knowledge and training.

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cell-phone-on-construction-siteCell phone usage on construction sites may increases the risk of accidents. While there are no specific rules when it comes to cellphone usage on a construction site, it is the employer’s responsibility to keep employees safe and to train them about cell phone usage while working on an active construction site.

Headphones are not OSHA approved ear protective devices

While OSHA requires construction workers to use ear protective devices when the noise on a site exceeeds permissible noise exposure limits, they are not talking about headphones or earbuds. While some manufacturers are advertising that their headphones are OSHA approved or OSHA compliant,  OSHA warned in a recent letter that these claims are misleading.  Listening to music when working on an active construction site covers environmental sounds and increases the risk for construction workers to be struck by hazards while performing their work.

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NYC construction workersConstruction workers and extraction workers not only have a high risk of getting injured on the job but also they are the most at risk of getting addicted to drugs such as non prescription opioid, cocaine and marijuana according to a recent study published by NYU. The study looked at 290,000 workers belonging to 13 different industries and found out that 3.4% of construction workers were misusing painkillers compared to a 2% average for the rest of the professions.

The study confirms that the opiate crisis is a major problem in the construction industry but also found that construction workers were also consuming more marijuana and cocaine than other workers. The study links the increased risk of addictions to all 3 substances to the precarious condition of employment sustained by construction workers and found that absenteeism is a trigger  for increased used of all 3 drugs. The study also found that  employers with written drug policies  have less workers dealing with cocaine addiction and employers using drug testing had less workers using marijuana.

Drug addiction treatments not proposed by employers

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Since 2011 the number of construction workers who died in a fall accident increased by 45% according to the recent report “Trends of Fall Injuries and Prevention in the Construction Industry” released by the The Center for Construction Research and Training.

The report focuses mostly on data from 2011 to 2017 and found that despite a slow down in construction accident fatalities between 2016 and 2017, the number of deaths related to fall accidents continued to rise. 389 construction workers fell to their death in 2017 compared to 388 in 2016.

construction deaths and fall deaths 2003 to 2017
Among the 389 fall fatalities, 367 were to a lower level. Falls from roofs are the most common and account for approximately one third of the fall fatalities. Falls from ladders are the second most common causes of fall fatalities and account for approximately a quarter of them.  All in all falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds account for more than 70% of all falls to a lower level.

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Trench and excavation accident prevention infographicConstruction workers who are working in trenching and excavation are exposed to extremely dangerous hazards resulting most of the time from collapse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 130 hard hats died in trenching and excavation accidents between 2011 and 2016.

Half of these fatalities occurred between 2015 and 2016.

Among the 130 dead workers, 104 were working for the private construction industry and among them 40 died at industrial places and premises, 39 died at private residence sites and 21 died at streets or highways construction sites.