Construction sites present numerous opportunities for workers to become involved in accidents that lead to serious injuries. According to the most recent annual published statistics from the New York State Department of Labor, there were 4,400 non-fatal accidents in the state’s construction industry.
Common causes of construction industry accidents and injuries include:
Whether in a demolition project or a construction project, construction workers inside or near a collapsing building can be struck by flying or falling debris and injured and/or buried, which can lead to crushing injuries and suffocation. Tenants or visitors to a building may be injured by structural failure as well.
Cleaning Crew Injuries
Cleaning crews often work at heights on ladders and scaffolding, using power equipment and harsh chemicals that can cause injuries. Cleaning crews may be responsible for winter snow and ice removal, which presents slip-and-fall risks as well as the risk of exposure to cold stress such as frostbite or hypothermia.
Construction Vehicle Accidents
Large construction sites may be populated by multiple large trucks, cranes, forklifts and other motor vehicles. Driver error and vehicle malfunctions make motor vehicle accidents one of the most common causes of construction site injuries.
Crane and hoist accidents cause dozens of construction worker deaths each year. After such an accident, it is crucial to investigate the crane company, which may be a subcontractor, to determine how the company set up the crane and operated it.
Equipment Operator Injuries
New York has specific regulations for the operation of dump trucks, backhoes, bucket trucks and other types of motorized equipment on construction sites. Contractors are responsible for ensuring equipment operators are trained and fit for the job. Equipment owners are required to perform regular maintenance and repair to ensure equipment failure does not cause accidents. They must also keep records of work performed.
Overloading cranes and hoists or improperly rigging loads can lead to disastrous accidents if objects being transported fall and strike workers. Objects that fall on workers from floors above at a construction site because they were improperly handled or stored can also strike workers and serious or fatal injury to them.
Falls From Heights
Much of the work that construction workers do is necessarily from heights reached by ladders, scaffolding or utility poles or performed on roofs or elevated floors. OSHA regulations prescribe training and safety equipment to be used at specific heights. Contractors can be held liable if they ignore safety regulations or do not provide proper training and fall-prevention safeguards.
Falls From Ladders
Fixed and portable ladders are a staple of construction sites. However, workers run the risk of falling each time they use one. The ladder itself may fail, or a worker can make a wrong move and slip and fall from a ladder and suffer serious injury. New York’s scaffolding laws provide strict liability that is applied in ladder accidents.
Falls From Other Elevated Places
New York law recognizes the dangers workers face when they work at heights and puts responsibility on the project owner and its contractors for making the work environment as safe as it can reasonably be. If a contractor’s negligence causes a worker to be injured in a fall from an elevated work site, the contractor can be held liable.
Falls From Roofs
Property owners, contractors and subcontractors can be held liable if a roofer or any construction worker who was not given the proper safety equipment falls from a roof and is injured. Because the height, uneven work surface and pitch of a roof makes jobs on roofs dangerous, specific safety regulations are in place and well-known to anyone experienced in the construction industry. Those in charge of construction sites must assume responsibility for workers’ safety.
Falls From Scaffolding
Scaffolding at a construction site is often erected by a contractor specifically hired for that job. Scaffolding that fails or that lacks railings or stable footings can cause workers to fall and suffer catastrophic injury or death. Property owners and their contractors can be held liable for such worker injuries under New York law.
Repairmen who perform short- or long-term work at construction sites or finished buildings are protected by New York labor laws just as other construction workers are. Project or building managers who allow unsafe conditions that lead to a repairman being injured in an accident may be held liable through a legal claim.
Road and Bridge Construction
Work crews involved in road repaving, road construction and bridge construction should be able to count on work zones being set up to protect them from traffic as well as from other hazards inherent in such a worksite. In addition to negligent contractors, motorists who fail to observe safe driving rules in work zones may be held liable if they cause accidents that injure workers.
Trench Cave-Ins and Crush Injuries
Improperly designed, formed and supported trenches can collapse and crush or smother workers who are in them. The danger of cave-ins and crush injuries necessitated the development of strict rules in New York that pre-date OSHA regulations for trenches. There is no excuse for a dangerous trench on a construction site.
Utility Worker Injury
Utility workers who install, construct or repair water and sewer lines and fixtures, electrical lines and cable TV lines face a risk of injury from falls, electrocution, explosive and/or toxic gases and chemicals, trench collapses, weather exposure, and other dangers. Linemen and other utility workers in New York are protected by the state’s labor law.
Falls are among the most common accidents that result in injury and disability among construction workers. A fall can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI), back and spine injury (including paralysis), fractures and other injuries.
OSHA regulations and New York State law prescribe safeguards against falls in all facets of the construction industry. Negligent contractors, project supervisors and property owners can be held liable for workers’ injuries.
Contact a New York Construction Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident while working in the construction industry in New York, contact a workplace injury attorney from Powers & Santola, LLP.
Construction accident attorney Daniel Santola and his legal team have thorough knowledge of applicable New York laws and OSHA regulations, and he has deep experience in investigating construction site accidents of all types.
Our firm serves clients in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York State. We can provide a free consultation about your rights and the legal options available to you.
Sources / More Information
- Occupational Illnesses and Injuries, New York State Department of Labor