Thousands of tons of concrete are poured each year for New York construction. Concrete serves as a solid foundation for many buildings, but can also be used for columns, slabs, and beams. Concrete workers are a common sight at most construction sites, but they also face many hazards. If you were injured, contact Powers & Santola, LLP to speak with our New York construction accident lawyers about your case. You probably have a right to receive medical care free of charge, and you might even qualify for wage loss benefits or even other financial compensation.
Why is Concrete Popular in Construction?
Concrete is a composite material made up of cement, water, and fine aggregates like sand. When mixed, the composite can be poured into place before it settles and hardens. Concrete is the most common construction material used in the world, more popular than even steel or wood. All sorts of buildings use concrete, from high rise office buildings to residential homes.
There are many reasons why concrete is popular. Unlike steel, which is generally inflexible, concrete can be poured into place and molded into any shape desired. Once hardened, however, concrete proves very hard to destroy, so it is a reliable material.
What Are the Dangers with Concrete?
Concrete is everywhere at construction sites, but it is potentially dangerous. Here are some accidents and injuries workers can suffer:
- Burns. Wet concrete can burn a worker’s exposed skin. Workers should wear appropriate clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, but concrete can get inside boots and gloves or even soak through a worker’s pants at the knees. Burns can result in serious pain, disfigurement, and infection. Some workers might require skin grafts to treat second- or third-degree burns.
- Blindness. Cement particles might get inside a worker’s eyes, leading to irritation. Workers should have goggles or other protective eye coverings, but they might be defective. Some cement particles will leave permanent eye injuries, including blindness.
- Respiratory injury. A worker who inhales cement particles or dust could end up with a respiratory illness. Some concrete is made with silica, which can lead to silicosis or lung cancer after prolonged inhalation. Workers who sand or grind concrete are at heightened risk of respiratory illnesses because of the fine dust created. Concrete workers should have adequate protection to minimize these risks.
- Overexertion injuries. To make concrete, workers must lift bags of material, which puts strain on their body. A worker who overexerts himself can end up with stress injuries like strains, sprains, and muscle tears. These injuries might heal with rest, but some workers refuse to take it easy for a few days.
- Crush injuries. Concrete is heavy. A worker could be trapped underneath heavy bags of material that fall off a forklift or have concrete inadvertently poured onto them. A “blowout” is a type of construction accident where concrete is poured into a mold, but the mold fails spectacularly. The concrete then “blows” all over the worker. Crush injuries include fractures, nerve damage, and musculoskeletal injuries.
- Vehicle accidents. Cement trucks are a common sight coming in and out of a jobsite. Other vehicles involved include forklifts, which might move bags of material around. Any worker struck by a motor vehicle could suffer serious bodily injuries, including concussion or paralysis, due to the force generated.
Your Employer’s Obligation to Protect You
Contractors can minimize the risks their workers face. Indeed, both state and federal guidelines seek to make the jobsite safe for those who work around concrete. Some federal regulations include:
- Establishing safety protocols for a jobsite
- Providing sufficient safety training to workers on the risks involved with cement and concrete
- Inspecting the site for hazards and stopping work if necessary
- Providing personal protection equipment (PPE) to workers
- Inspecting any heavy machinery involved with construction work and replacing it if necessary
- Establishing emergency procedures for helping workers injured on the job
As mentioned above, some workers need masks, respirators, knee pads, long-sleeves shirts, and goggles to prevent them from burns and other injuries.
How Powers & Santola Can Help Following an Accident
Any worker injured by concrete should receive immediate medical care. A burn could get much worse, for example, the longer you leave the concrete on your skin.
Once your condition stabilizes, you should discuss legal options. Our lawyers are available to discuss possible financial compensation. Any concrete accident can leave someone with significant medical bills. For example, if you develop silicosis or cancer, you might require surgery or need chemo. You will probably also miss work, robbing you of income.
Injured workers have various options for compensation:
- Workers’ compensation benefits. Someone injured while working should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical treatment and wage loss benefits. These are no-fault benefits—but they aren’t generous. You will receive at most 2/3 of your average weekly wage for any temporary disability.
- Lawsuit under the New York Labor Law. You might have a legal right to sue your employer for failure to provide a safe work environment. We will want to analyze what caused the accident. Fault matters for a lawsuit under this law.
- Third party lawsuit. Injured workers might also sue someone other than their employer. For example, PPE might be defective due to a poor design. A respirator could fail, leading to inhalation of considerable amounts of dust. Manufacturers are liable for selling defective products.
Each construction accident is unique, so contact us for an individualized assessment of your case. Some workers might be able to bring multiple lawsuits, while others might have to settle for workers’ compensation benefits.
Empowering Injured Workers
Powers & Santola, LLP, is proud to help those employed in the construction trades. We recognize how important you are to the New York economy. When you are injured, you deserve medical care and wage replacement. You might also qualify for compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress. Call us today to schedule a consultation. We will be able to provide individualized advice once we learn more about how you were injured at work.