Liability For Fatal Worker Accidents At New York Construction Sites

The construction industry can be hazardous to the health and safety of its workers.

On September 23, 2014, a 27-year-old construction worker from Jersey City was crushed to death in Manhattan when a concrete slab from the foundation of an adjacent building fell on him during excavation work for a new hotel. The New York Post reported that a witness estimated the slab probably weighed "several tons."

Construction Fatalities: The National Numbers

In 2013, the construction industry had the most fatal work injuries nationally of any industry sector: almost 800, according to preliminary data gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, referred to as the BLS. Of the total, the percentages of selected events that caused these construction deaths include: 12 percent roadway; 37 percent fall, slip or trip; and 10 percent worker struck by an object or piece of equipment.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration expands on the BLS numbers. OSHA reports that the 2013 numbers show that one in five U.S. workers with work-related deaths that year were in the construction industry. OSHA labels these causes as the "Fatal Four" in construction, causing more than half of these fatalities:

  • Falls: 36.9 percent
  • Struck by object: 10.3 percent
  • Electrocution: 8.9 percent
  • Caught inside or in between (such as being crushed or pinched between objects like two parts of a machine, two pieces of equipment, a vehicle and a stationary object like a wall, two moving objects, collapsed walls in a trench and so on): 2.6 percent

Construction In New York

To New Yorkers, this should come as no surprise. A city in a constant state of rejuvenation, a scan of the New York skyline at any time reveals cranes, scaffolding and other signs of new construction, renovation and demolition.

BLS provides New York-specific data from 2013. Of the almost 800 construction-worker deaths nationally, 38 were in New York state, including New York City. Specific causative events in these deaths:

  • Transportation incidents: 6
  • Falls, slips and trips: 20
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: 4
  • Contact with objects and equipment: 7

Legal Counsel For Construction Injury And Death

Anyone in New York City injured in the construction industry or with a loved one killed on a construction site should speak as soon as possible to a personal injury attorney with extensive construction accident experience. The construction accident lawyers at Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C., a New York City personal injury law firm with extensive experience representing injured construction workers and their families, can investigate the incident and provide advice about legal remedies and potentially responsible parties.

Not only should an injured worker apply for workers' compensation, but also ask his or her attorney to analyze whether a third-party lawsuit is appropriate under the circumstances. Any statements or reports that are filed for a workers' compensation claim will be discoverable by the defendants in a third-party lawsuit for personal injuries. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced construction injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Massive projects in a densely built and populated area like New York City are by nature dangerous to those who labor on them, but contractors, subcontractors, property owners, landlords, equipment and materials manufacturers and others are all responsible to do their part to keep workers safe by not negligently or recklessly allowing dangerous conditions, unsafe equipment or safety standard violations.

Keywords: liability, fatality, construction accident, New York City, construction worker, excavation, hotel, BLS, OSHA, death, attorney, third-party lawsuit, workers' compensation