In a city where construction is constantly taking place, workplace construction accidents are a common safety issue. In fact, a city survey shows that at any given time close to half of New York City’s construction sites are unsafe. The survey was conducted following a 37% percent increase in construction site accidents the year prior. In 2013, a sweep by the Department of Buildings found that only 55% of job sites were in full compliance with existing safety requirements; 33% had some violations and a considerable chunk, 13%, needed to be halted altogether because of severe violations.
The agency also found that half of the fatal construction accidents in 2012 were due to falls, while the city saw a 16% increase in accidents caused by falling debris. That same year, injuries to the public jumped up 25%. Despite the obvious increase in construction injuries, oversight appears to be lacking in New York. In January 2013 the New York Daily News reported that worksite inspections were reduced by 40%, from 244,000 in 2009 to 141,000 in 2012; simultaneously, the number of violations dropped by 6,600 between 2011 and 2012. The city has acknowledged the cutback in inspections and citations by promising to hire more inspectors, and also admits that it has been depending on private contractors to privately police and report violations.
Most Common Workplace Safety Violations
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the preliminary top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for 2012 2000 to 2010. The announcement, made at the 2012 National Safety Council Congress in Orlando, cited the following as the most common violations for the fiscal year of 2012:
- 1. Fall Protection (7,250 total violations)
- 2. Hazard Communication (4,696 total violations)
- 3. Scaffolding (3,814 total violations)
- 4. Respiratory Protection (2,371 total violations)
- 5. Ladders (2,310 total violations)
- 6. Machine Guarding (2,097 total violations)
- 7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1,993 total violations)
- 8. Electrical Wiring (1,744 total violations)
- 9. Lockout/Tagout (1,572 total violations)
- 10. Electrical-General (1,332 total violations)
OSHA found, among other things, that failure to protect workers from falls led to the greatest number of violations; this includes failure to protect open sides and edges to prevent falls from roofs, and to cover holes. OSHA also noted that hazard communication violations involved the lack of proper training and education for employees, failure to have a written program, and no material safety data sheet. Lack of guardrails, improper access and problems with construction were among the possible reasons for scaffolding violations.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Workplace Construction Accident
The consequences of a workplace construction accident can vary from minor to life-altering. Naturally, people who have been injured in these types of accidents have many questions about their legal rights and the grounds they have to file a lawsuit. As a New York-based personal injury law firm, we are here to help answer any questions you might have about a workplace construction injury. If you are interested, please fill out our online form or call our office at 212-267-6700.