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Is Construction Site Culture a Factor in Accidents?

Posted on July 2, 2015 by Kelly Wolford

Over the years, much concern has been raised about whether construction site culture has become a contributing factor in many of the construction site accidents, injuries and deaths throughout New York.

According to The Real Deal, the “macho” hardhat culture and competitive attitude exhibited by generations of construction workers, both in New York and throughout the country, has been viewed as almost part-and-parcel to the construction industry. As a result, those working in the construction industry often have developed a disregard for safety.

In 2013, 828 construction workers lost their lives in workplace or on-site accidents in the private sector, as reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This equals approximately 20.2 percent of the total worker fatalities in all private sector industries that year.

The primary causes of these fatal accidents – also referred to as the “Fatal Four” – were:

  • Falls
  • Being struck by an object
  • Electrocutions
  • Being caught in or in-between an object or piece of machinery.

Wearing hard hats and correct footwear, using safety harnesses, wearing eye protection, only using proper equipment and tools for specific tasks and following state and federal safety guidelines are a few of the ways workers can minimize the risk of serious injury on the job.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of site owners and general contractors to make sure their construction site “culture” is one that places a high value on the health and safety of workers – particularly those working at a substantial height.

How Does New York Law Mandate Safety at Construction Sites?

Construction site owners, contractors and their agents are obligated under New York Labor Laws to take safety measures to protect workers and exercise reasonable precaution as a way of protecting employees and keeping them out of harm’s way. When safety is ignored or given a low priority by those in charge, workers suffer.

In cases where a worker is injured on-the-job or at a construction site due to the owners or contractors failing to fulfill their duties, the law gives that worker the right to pursue compensation for any injuries or losses sustained.

The “Scaffold Law” is a prime example. This New York law requires construction site owners, contractors and agents to take steps to ensure the safety of workers when a fall potential exists.

This law encompasses any type of safety device used to allow either workers or materials to ascend to elevated locations for work. It covers scaffolding, ladders, pulleys and hoists. Failure on the part of the owner or contractors to fulfill this duty could be grounds for a lawsuit or claim if it leads to an injury or death.

Even a worker’s own negligence does not negate the duty an owner or contractor has to keep workers safe, and it cannot be used as a reason or defense to injury claims brought pursuant to the Scaffold Law. This clearly shows how much safety is considered to be the responsibility of owners, contractors and their agents.

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured at a NY Construction Site?

Being injured while at work can have devastating consequences – particularly if your injuries are severe enough to prevent you from being able to continue working, maintain a decent standard of living or provide financial support to those you love.

Our law firm understands the ramifications of construction site injuries. This is why we are firmly committed to promoting safety in the New York construction industry. Protecting the rights of injured workers is a priority for our team, and a fight which we unrelentingly pursue.

If you or a loved one has been injured at a construction site in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York, contact our firm to find out how you can pursue damages through New York’s Labor Laws.