Before a new building can go up in Albany, an old one usually needs to come down first, so demolition is a critical part of many construction projects. Unfortunately, demolition is also quite dangerous. Workers can become trapped beneath rubble when walls or floors suddenly collapse, and they might be crushed by falling beams. These incidents are often tragic, and those who survive can struggle with life-long injuries.
Powers & Santola, LLP is a law firm dedicated to helping construction workers and their families following construction accidents. If you were injured while working in demolition, please call us. New York has several laws on the books which provide workers with the right to sue, or you might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. We will analyze your accident and strategize ways to get you the compensation you and your family need.
Why Demolition is Dangerous
As defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), demolition involves wrecking, dismantling, or razing any building or structure, or any part of a building or structure. Demolition is typically necessary before new construction can begin.
There are many hazards with demolition, such as:
- Unknown structural weaknesses. You might think removing a beam or wall will not cause the entire structure to collapse, but the remaining supports could be much weaker than they look.
- Design modification during construction, which might force the team to change which part of the building they demolish.
- Hidden materials, such as asbestos, silica, heavy metals, or lead, which workers can inhale during demolition without their knowledge.
- Dangerous demolition equipment or methods used at the job site. Even careful workers get injured when equipment fails to work as expected.
- Failure to follow OSHA guidelines on proper demolition, which increases the risk of a preventable accident.
Another danger could be lack of experience. Some workers are not familiar with demolition work, or the demolition subcontractor could be new to the field. Inexperience is a major cause of construction site injuries and accidents.
Planning is Essential to Demolition Work
No matter how eager a contractor is to begin building, they must undertake necessary preparation before they start demolition. This preparation should touch on all aspects of demolition, including:
- Completion of an engineering survey
- Selection of necessary and appropriate equipment
- Identification and securing of nearby utilities
- Review of all safety precautions with workers
- Creation of a fire prevention plan
- Development of evacuation plans
- Selection of personal protective equipment (PPE) for demolition work and appropriate training in its use
- Inspection of PPE to ensure it is effective
Unfortunately, some job sites skip these critical steps. They might have an inexperienced engineer perform the survey, or they use old PPE. Training is often rushed or skipped altogether, especially if a project is behind deadline.
Are You Protected in the Event of an Accident?
Construction workers in Albany have powerful laws at their disposal. New York leads the country in protecting construction personnel with a comprehensive labor law that requires safe workplaces. Some of the most important provisions include:
- Labor Law § 200, which requires that contractors maintain a safe work environment.
- Labor Law § 240, which protects workers struck by falling objects or who are injured in a fall.
- Labor Law § 241, which sets regulations which can apply to demolition work which owners and contractors must follow.
These laws also give injured workers a right to sue in court. For example, your employer might have failed to use necessary safety equipment as part of the demolition, in which case they are liable for the accident and your resulting injuries.
Demolition accidents are some of the worst on construction sites. Not only are they dramatic accidents, but dozens of workers can suffer a serious injury at one time when a building falls in. Workers can also suffer injuries if they fall several stories during the incident.
Some of the most consequential injuries workers suffer include:
- Crush injuries
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Nerve damage
- Organ damage
Many injuries are catastrophic and will impair a person for life. For example, a spinal column injury could lead to permanent paralysis and the inability to work ever again. Or an amputation can prevent someone from returning to construction as their career.
A worker could also end up inhaling dust and other particulate matter, like asbestos, during construction. This material can ultimately cause respiratory illnesses down the road. Many workers are surprised that exposure to toxic chemicals years earlier can ultimately cause severe illness.
Compensation Following a Demolition Accident
Injured workers often have one question: “Am I entitled to compensation after a workplace accident?” We understand why they ask. Many construction workers are living paycheck to paycheck and missing even one week of work is stressful. Nonetheless, those who survive demolition accidents often need to rehab significant injuries, and this medical care is too expensive for most of them.
Fortunately, if you were hurt while working, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, which includes immediate medical care. Depending on your injuries, you might also qualify for vocational rehabilitation and wage loss benefits.
You might also be able to sue a contractor onsite, depending on the facts. As mentioned above, New York’s Labor Law gives workers the ability to sue in many cases. A personal injury lawsuit is ideal, because you can seek full restoration of lost income, as well as compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and other suffering, which workers’ compensation does not provide.
Give Us a Call
Construction workers often feel abandoned by their employers following an accident. You might not know how to make a workers’ compensation claim for an on-site injury, and your employer might refuse to call back. Please reach out to Powers & Santola today. We can help you through the process. Where appropriate, we can also sue the construction site owner or contractor for lax safety which puts your life in danger. Our consultations are free and confidential, so there is no reason not to reach out today.