New York City never has a shortage of construction projects on the streets and sidewalks. Unfortunately, as the number of projects continue to line up in the city, the amount of injuries and fatalities increase as well. It should come as no surprise that the construction industry is responsible for a large portion of deaths and injuries in the city for both workers and pedestrians.
Many employers fail to ensure that all of their workers operate safely. Last year, New York City’s Department of health cited 91 OSHA fatality investigations between 2007 to 2014 to determine which safety violations are among the most frequent in construction fatalities. Construction workers and their families should be aware of the frequency of these violations to prepare themselves should a major injury occur on the site.
Lack of training
Employees that do not receive proper training before operating heavy machinery or walking on dangerous grounds are among the most common construction victims. It is the most frequent safety violation, taking up half of OSHA’s 91 fatality investigations used for the study.
The main issue is that numerous employers give newer workers some of the more difficult tasks within just weeks or months of the job. They need to evaluate each person’s experience, age and knowledge before throwing them onto a task they may not be able to perform. This is a field where just one slight mistake can be fatal. It doesn’t help that the amount of required safety training hours has been a contentious debate topic in New York within the last couple of years, with many questioning how it would impact costs and the effectiveness of the programs.
Improper fall protection
Falls make up a large majority of injuries in the construction industry, so it is understandable why it would make up the second largest percentage of safety violations in New York. It is almost the same amount as the training violations, so there is likely sizable portion of deaths that featured both of these faults.
OSHA has strict guidelines towards providing proper fall protection on all constructions sites. The areas must have guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems for workers that are operating more than 6 feet above the ground. They also note that it is ultimately up to the employer to determine if fall protection is necessary on certain parts of the cite, leaving them liable in the event of an accident.
Nearly a quarter of the New York investigations involved an incident with a scaffold. While it is likely that a large part of these violations were due to a lack of fall protection, many scaffold accidents occur when the structure breaks. If it is overloaded with people and materials on top and it is not properly supported, it can fall apart and leave the workers in a pile of debris after a fall from a height. Scaffolds must also require a full inspection before they can be used in the field.
New York construction employers can cause these safety violations in an effort to get projects done more quickly given the high demand in the city. Prioritizing the safety of the workers can avoid more costly mistakes and millions of dollars in property damage and medical expenses. Construction workers suffering severe injuries from their employer’s negligence should consider obtaining legal assistance to help cover for their devastating conditions.