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Arye, Lustig & Sassower Blog

NYC construction hazards: When falling objects cause serious injury

Construction work is dangerous, but sometimes unnecessarily so. Falling objects can present a serious hazard that may be largely preventable.

In November 2016, two workers were killed in Queens by a 6,500-pound beam that came loose from a crane, according to The crane operator and flag man were crushed, and windy conditions were reportedly a concern. Such tragic cases cause workers and their families to worry about safety.

D. Carl Lustig Contributes a Chapter in the 4th Edition of "Medical Malpractice in New York"

D. Carl Lustig, III, a member of Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C., has written a chapter in the latest edition of New York State Bar Association's highly regarded textbook, Medical Malpractice in New York, 4th Edition.

Manhattan's construction explosion: More work, but more possibility of injury

Manhattan is bursting with huge construction projects -- downtown, midtown and uptown -- including residential and mixed-use buildings. With one of the world's tallest residential towers at 432 Park Avenue, two enormous new skyscrapers being erected on West 57th Street, extensive development by Columbia, NYU and Cornell, and countless other projects in the works, New York developers are competing for bragging rights. And there is plenty of opportunity for workers.

But what happens to you and your family if you are injured on the job? Medical bills, lost income, suffering and stress -- these things tend to accompany a serious construction injury. What do you need to know if an accident occurs?

NYC construction accidents: Who pays the medical bills?

We all know medical care is expensive, with most experts seeing no sign of things becoming more affordable. If you or one of your family members is injured on a construction job, who will pay your medical bills? Who will cover the lost income during recovery?

Construction accidents can cause serious and catastrophic injuries. Workers and their families know that medical costs may be covered by workers' compensation, but many are not sure about how to get the bills paid in the meantime. What should you do if you are dealing with the physical, emotional and financial aftermath of an accident?

NYC construction worker deaths: Why New York's "Scaffold Law" is important

We have talked in previous posts about the alarming rise of construction-related deaths in New York City. Many of the city's recent fatal accidents have involved falls and falling machinery. There is a painful feeling among workers, workers' families and worker advocates that some of the accidents could have been prevented.

Placing safety responsibility where it belongs

New York State Labor Law Section 240, which is sometimes known as the "Scaffold Law," is designed to hold project owners and contractors accountable for injuries to workers on construction sites. Where the worker falls from a height or is struck by a falling object, the law recognizes that workers who are exposed to such elevation-related conditions are subject to the risk of serious injuries. These rules are important because they place primary responsibility for safety where it belongs -- on the owners and contractors (and their agents) who control the job site.

Some businesses choose to put profits ahead of worker safety. It is not surprising that a number of New York builders and developers would like to see the "Scaffold Law" dismantled or weakened.

NYC construction worker deaths: Why are we skimping on safety during a building boom?

Construction workers are dying in increasing numbers. A recent New York Times opinion piece threw out a shocking number: There were 31 New York City construction fatalities, most of them on nonunion worksites, in the last two years.

Many people wonder why there are so many catastrophic accidents when machines are more sophisticated than ever, proper safety equipment is readily available and safety awareness among workers is high. Sadly, the problem appears to be rooted in greed.

When profit overrides safety: NYC construction deaths in windy conditions

As sad as it seems, some fatal construction accidents are preventable. In New York City, there is a long and significant history of catastrophic construction accidents that have one problematic thing in common: windy conditions under which people probably shouldn't have been working in the first place. 

On November 22, the New York Times reported that two construction workers were accidentally killed earlier on that "gusty day" in Queens. A 6500-pound steel beam dropped four stories from a crane. Unfortunately for the two workers who died, winds reportedly exceeded 30 miles per hour that day.

NYC construction accidents: What happens when the worker is blamed?

Construction work is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. All too often, workers are seriously injured or killed, and sometimes innocent bystanders are hurt or lose their lives because of construction accidents -- right here in New York City.

Safety experts (and workers themselves, who understand the job better than anyone) chalk up many accidents to workplace safety problems, which are ultimately the responsibility of employers. Unfortunately, workers may be blamed for accidents, too. The New York Times reported that this was the case with the horrific, wind-related crane accident in lower Manhattan on February 5, 2016.

Alarms are ringing for construction worker safety in New York City

New York City has recently experienced a building boom. While construction soars, a concerning side effect seems to only be getting worse: worker injuries and fatalities. The death of two construction workers last month in Queens was the final straw for the New York City Council. Recently, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke in favor of reforming the city's construction safety rules.

The City Council scheduled an oversight hearing regarding better safety for workers, with the goal of reducing fatalities to zero. This new scrutiny on construction site safety is partly the result of 12 worker deaths in 2015, according to the New York City Buildings Department. The numbers climbed from eight fatalities in 2014, and 2016 is not looking much better. Yet in actuality, the fatalities may be worse than what is reported.

Why are crane accidents still causing so many worker fatalities?

November's deadly crane accident in Queens has put crane safety in the spotlight. Two workers were killed when a crane cable snapped and dropped a 6,500-pound steel beam four stories. While the city continues to investigate, possible causes include cable failure due to the weight; also, the fatal accident occurred on a windy day, so weather may have been a factor.

After the accident, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that the council is concerned about the high rate of crane accidents, which have taken too many lives in New York. It leaves many asking why cranes are still so dangerous for construction workers.

Just two of many deaths this year

This tragic accident marks the second crane incident that has caused fatalities this year in New York City. These deaths are just a fraction of the total every year in the country. Crane accidents were involved in 25 deaths last year in the U.S., according to OSHA.

*AV Preeminent is the highest rating of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

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