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The fight to protect New York City’s construction workers

It’s the most dangerous job in America: construction worker. Because New York City is on the cusp of a construction boom, there is increased focus on how best to safeguard the men and women who don hardhats and pour the concrete and erect the steel girders.

Just this month, two workers have fallen to their deaths in midtown construction accidents, reminding all of us of the tremendous risks inherent in the job. 

The boom will be spurred by the city’s impending plan for 200,000 housing units, as well as rebuilding projects in areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.

National think tank Public Citizen says that 36 New York City construction workers died on the job in 2011 and 2012, part of the 1,513 workers killed on jobsites around the nation in those years. Then factor in the thousands more serious injuries sustained in the building industry annually.

The federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that its inspectors issue citations for construction fall protection safety violations more often than any other for any business in America.

One of the strongest local laws designed to protect workers injured in falls is Local Law 240, the Scaffold Law. Employers of workers injured or killed can be sued under the law.

A recent study attacked the law, claiming it costs millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Critics of the study question the motives and methods behind the research and say the law provides not only incentive for firms to obey safety regulations, but also provides legal recourse for victims when companies ignore rules.

An experienced construction injury attorney can explain the available legal options.

Source: New York Daily News, “When lawsuits protect hardhats,” Errol Louis, April 17, 2014

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