Four people, including three pedestrians and a firefighter, were injured recently when construction paneling collapsed from a West 40th Street building in Manhattan, sending debris on to the sidewalk below. Earlier that day, the New York City Department of Buildings issued a warning to all workers, contractors and property owners to secure project sites due to anticipated wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour.
Department of Building inspectors on the scene have since found that while strong winds were a factor in the incident, a construction fence meant to secure the materials was not installed properly, according to a CBS News source. Einstein Construction Group, the Texas-based contractor working on the building, received several violations and a stop-work order, though the company head insists they were not responsible.
In New York, site employees injured in construction accidents
can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits
through the Workers’ Compensation Board.
If the negligence of an individual or organization contributed to the accident, they may also file a third-party injury accident claim.
Filled with obvious and hidden safety hazards, construction sites are among the most dangerous work environments in the US, posing serious risks to both workers and non-workers in the area. Although site managers and employees are trained to maintain safe conditions, thousands of people are injured or killed on or near construction sites each year by falling debris, unstable platforms, large machinery and hazardous materials – including exposed wires and gas lines, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Those injured on construction sites are typically workers, with OSHA reporting that US construction workers suffered almost 93,00 injuries on the job in 2009 and continue to incur the most fatal injuries of any occupation. In New York City, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sites construction as the second-most dangerous industry, surpassed in fatalities only by the trade, transportation and utilities sector.
The recent construction accident illustrates how dangerous – and unpredictable — construction sites can be for non-workers as well. Many projects, including those in the populated five boroughs, take place in high traffic areas where pedestrians are walking through, around or below construction activity. Another incident in early October 2013 put pedestrians at significant risk when a crane malfunctioned at a midtown Manhattan high-rise, leaving 13,500 pounds of concrete hanging 30 stories above the street for several hours. Fortunately, workers were able to lower the load to the ground manually and no one was injured.
Both recent incidents in Midtown have been attributed by site managers to faulty equipment and dangerous weather conditions. However, as is often the case, they may have been prevented or alleviated by following standard safety regulations including those mandated by the state and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Inspection requirements, job safety programs and federal and state laws all seek to prevent accidents on construction sites and promote safety awareness. While not always the case, injuries at or around sites can be caused by the negligence of a third party who has failed to follow regulations.
In New York, site employees injured in construction accidents can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits through the Workers’ Compensation Board. If the negligence of an individual or organization contributed to the accident, they may also file a third-party injury accident claim. However, when a non-worker is injured, their only option for compensation may be a personal injury lawsuit. Construction accidents involving bystanders are handled in much the same way as other personal injury cases. The injured party files a lawsuit against the responsible party – whether it is an individual worker or employer, contractor, site manager, property owner or the manufacturer of equipment — and must prove that their negligence caused the accident and resulting injuries.
If you or someone you know has suffered from injuries or loss of life involving a construction site accident in New York, the experienced New York attorneys at Okun, Oddo & Babat can help you. Don’t hesitate to contact us or call us at 212.642.0950 to discuss your case.