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When Construction Sites Go Up, Do Accidents Go Up, Too?

Posted on March 11, 2016 by Kelly Wolford
construction worker fall off ladder

Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. The people who work in the construction field are often required to work from heights and deal with heavy equipment, bulky building materials and hazardous substances – all while being expected to perform risky and dangerous tasks on a regular basis.

As a result, construction site injuries happen with alarming regularity. Many of these types of injuries can be severe and even life-threatening.

At Powers & Santola, LLP, our New York construction site accident lawyers have assembled valuable information about workers’ rights and safety in our Construction Law Guidebook.

Unfortunately, despite the state and federal safety regulations that are in place, construction accidents in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York have become more common over the last several years, corresponding with a surge in new construction and development.

When construction sites go up, is it simply a fact that accident rates will go up as well. While some might consider this increase to be the unfortunate cost of economic progress, recent reports show that it may be indicative of a more serious problem.

Are Construction Site Fatalities Due to Increases in Development or Decreases in Safety?

According to the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of fatal work injuries in New York increased in 2014. The greatest percentage of injuries and fatalities occurred in the construction industry.

The BLS reports that a total of 22 workers died as the result of construction site injuries during that year, marking a 30 percent increase from 2013. Unfortunately, these numbers continued to climb through 2015.

An October 2015 report on construction fatalities in the New York Daily News asserts that the problem may not be an increase in construction activity as much as it is a decrease in overall safety at construction sites.

Construction contractors are required to adhere to numerous safety rules when it comes to enforcing the safety of their workers. Safety inspectors are employed to make sure these rules are followed.

In the Daily News report (which focused on New York City), an investigation revealed that the number of safety inspectors within the city had dropped steadily, while at the same time, the number of new building permits had increased. According to the newspaper:

  • In 2011, there were close to 2,000 safety inspectors listed for New York City. In 2014, that number dropped to almost 1,000.
  • In 2011, there were approximately 120,000 building permits issued in the city. In 2014, this number jumped to nearly 150,000.

As development continues to flourish in not only New York City but in other areas as well such as Albany and Syracuse, a lack of trained safety inspectors to enforce safety regulations could mean that increases in construction site injuries and fatalities will continue to rise.

Unsafe Conditions Threaten Both Workers and the General Public

A lack of safety on construction sites not only has the potential to injure workers, but it can cause injuries to the general public as well. In February 2016, The New York Times reported on a crane collapse in lower Manhattan that killed a pedestrian and injured several others. The crane was outstretched 565 feet into the air and collapsed as workers attempted to lower it due to high winds, the newspaper reported.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), crane accidents are one of the most common types of job site accidents resulting in construction worker injuries.

These accidents most often occur as the result of the crane not being inspected before use or because it was used or handled improperly. In addition to cranes, OSHA lists the following as potential hazards in terms of construction site injuries:

  • Trench collapses
  • Scaffolding collapses
  • Electric shocks or arc blasts
  • Falls from heights
  • Failure to use appropriate protective gear.

By law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. If the worksite owner or contractor does not provide appropriate safety gear, fails to provide proper training in the use of machinery or equipment or allows unsafe conditions to exist at the job site, you have the right to speak up about these problems.

If you are injured on your job site as the result of the construction site owner or a contractor failing to ensure safety standards are met, you may be entitled to compensation through a construction accident lawsuit.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me After a Construction Injury?

Under New York Labor Laws, construction site owners, contractors and their agents have a duty to take certain steps and precautions to protect against construction worker injuries.

If the owners, contractors or their agents fail in these duties, our construction site accident lawyers can assist you in pursuing compensation for your injuries.

We provide a free and confidential consultation to discuss the details of your case and advise you on how to hold responsible parties accountable for the damages you have suffered. We can also advise you on the types of compensation you may be entitled to recover, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and future lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and loss of enjoyment in life
  • Compensation for temporary or permanent disabilities.

If you have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one due to a construction accident, we may be able to assist you in filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the construction site owner, contractor or agent that is responsible.

Our Construction Accident Lawyers Serve Albany and Syracuse

If you or a loved one has been suffered injuries or losses as the result of unsafe conditions on a construction site in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York, contact Powers & Santola, LLP.

Our experienced construction site accident lawyers offer the aggressive legal representation you need to hold owners and contractors accountable for your injuries. Our initial consultations are always free. We can learn more about your case and discuss your legal rights and options.